Environmental sustainability in the film exhibition sector

Recommendations and resources to help develop greener, climate-friendly work practices.

The BFI is keen to build on the work already taking place in the film exhibition sector and to encourage those not yet integrating environmental considerations into their planning to do so.

Producing and publishing an organisational strategy is a great way of formalising your commitment and promoting sustainable practices. Some inspiring examples we have found include Scott Cinemas, HOME, Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, Curzon and Depot.

Below are the details of some key organisations and online resources and tools that might help to develop environmentally sustainable work practices.

BFI Sustainable Screen and Indigo Share present: Act Green 2023 cinema insights

This webinar gives insights from the Act Green 2023 survey on cinema audiences’ attitudes towards the climate emergency and the role of cultural organisations in tackling it.

Green Cinema Toolkit

The Green Cinema Toolkit from the Independent Cinema Office is aimed specifically at the film exhibition sector, and is an indispensable resource for cinemas looking to understand their environmental impact. As well as tips for a green cinema, the toolkit includes a review of climate change issues, case studies and links to further tools, guidance and resources.

The Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is an independent organisation that help companies to reduce their carbon footprint. The website includes free tools, guides and reports.

The Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts

The Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts (CSPA) is a thinktank for environmental sustainability in the arts and culture. Its activities include the publication of reports, research initiatives, information distribution, the creation of online tools, and conducting conferences and workshops on sustainable arts practices.

Creative Carbon Scotland

Creative Carbon Scotland (CCS) seeks to connect the arts and culture with others working towards environmental sustainability. It provides Scottish arts organisations with training in carbon measurement, reporting and reduction, and also helps to shape other organisations’ policies and strategies. CCS’s tools include a free ‘Quick Carbon Management Calculator’.

Sustainable Event Management ISO 20121

ISO 20121 was inspired by London 2012 and provides information, training and certification in how to reduce the environmental impact of event delivery.

Julie’s Bicycle

Julie’s Bicycle is a charity that provides training, information and certification in environmental sustainability for arts organisations, and has resources that include a free carbon calculator. The FAQs section of their website provides a good introduction to climate change.

Carbon Literacy Project

The Carbon Literacy Project raises awareness of the impact of everyday activities on the climate and what steps can be taken. It certifies individual trainers and company training providers and organisations themselves (to run in-house training) in providing carbon literacy training.

Sustainable Arts in Leeds (SAIL)

SAIL is a membership network of Leeds-based organisations and individuals in the creative and cultural sector. It seeks to reduce environmental impact by using the network to share knowledge and establish best practice, and to collectively inform and engage audiences about climate change.

Manchester Arts Sustainability Team (MAST)

MAST is a Manchester-based membership networking group for the cultural sector advocating sustainable practice. It meets quarterly and creates events and topic based initiatives to help member organisations learn how to cut emissions.

Circular Arts Network (CAN)

CAN is a listings site for Scotland-based practitioners designed to help people working in the arts reuse and recycle easily, while also supporting other sectors to recycle their excess materials in a different way.

Listings include equipment, materials, furniture, transport and services.

10 tips for running a more sustainable cinema

  • commit to a renewable energy provider
  • maintain your equipment and infrastructure (clean filters increase efficiency, reduce costs and use of fossil fuels)
  • engage an energy consultant who can measure all your equipment and make energy saving recommendations
  • appoint an in-house ambassador to help drive the green agenda
  • serve tap water instead of bottled
  • reusable containers for stock/deliveries (prioritise traders that do, or use your buying power to convince traders to adapt)
  • eradicate single-use plastic wherever possible by using reusable, compostable or recyclable alternatives (incentivise customer refill options)
  • separate waste types for sorting and recycling
  • use local suppliers and distributors
  • engage and inspire your customers with regular environmental themed screenings, promotions and campaigns

The 10 tips were first published in the blog post ‘How to build and run a sustainable cinema’ by Natasha Padbury and commissioned by the Independent Cinema Office as part of its exhibition industry blog series.