We use various sustainability, consciousness promoting and eco-friendly practises here at Made Up’s workshops in central London and Ibiza. It’s sometimes called event greening in the sector. Naturally, we’re happy to share our tips and help other event production companies! Or, if you’d like us to handle a more environmentally positive production for you, speak to us today via firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)207 231 7678.
Donate Used Pieces to Schools and Theatre Groups
“Unfortunately, the events industry is a wasteful industry. Some fabrications are created just for a only a single use with elements that can’t be recycled,” says Adam Douglas our operations director, “so we extend the items’ life by giving them to organisations such as schools or theatre companies. Some of the treatments that we apply to wood – fire-resistant chemicals, paint, pigments, glues – are in themselves un-recyclable. For these pieces, we keep a network of several local arts venues, for example the Katzspace in London Bridge. Every time we have items that we no longer need, we send out a mail to the group and see if anyone wants to take them.”
Talk to Designers from the Start
“If you’ve worked in sets and builds for a while, you know that wood comes in sheets made from standard sizes. So, to minimise waste you take those into account,” says Adam. “Lots of the designers we deal with aren’t aware of this because they don’t regularly work in large set builds, so it’s essential that we get in touch with them from the start to advise. Theatres hold hold ‘stock flatage’ of specific sizes that they repaint all the time, and that’s something we want to extend into the events industry.”
Dialogues of this kind are encouraged, says Adam, because “We’re now dealing with clients who are taking their sustainability a lot more seriously, and want to know processes we have that they can work their projects into.”
Be Aware of Falling Prices for Materials
“Everyone wants to be green until they see the price, and that’s understandable,” says Adam. “Recycled MDF has always existed, but the price point used to be prohibitive,” he explains, “as much as three times normal. But at the 2012 Olympics, brands were keen to match its green credentials, ordered more of it, and the price went down. It’s still around double or plus 60% or so, but that is likely to keep going down. If plywood sheets go down in price too, that’ll be the next major shift.”
Detail Your Recycling System
“We have separate recycling for all items: for instance metal, acrylics, and certain types of wood. Our plywood and non man-made woods are collected separately. MDF and other powdered substrates go in the normal recycling.”
Add Recyclable Elements Whenever Possible
“If we can, we build recyclable parts into otherwise un-recyclable items. For example: if only the front of a build requires un-recyclable elements, we’ll make sure to create the back from recyclable materials. We end up with the bulk of the piece being sustainable after all.”
Case Study: Pallet Walls
Made Up’s ‘pallet walls’ – free-standing billboards made from delivery pallets – have been used by clients including BBC Sounds and BBC Introducing at Glastonbury Festival and more this summer.
“At the start of the decade we were breaking pallets down and using them for materials,” tells Adam, “for instance, the Corona Sunsets stage that tours festivals was made using abandoned wood. But the latest trend is for a ‘pallet wall’. We take existing pallets, put them together, paint them and use them as signage, branding, or other large iconography.
The outdoor summer circuit has been the driver for many green innovations, he explains. “It’s something that’s grown out of festival land, where they like a rough ’n’ ready aesthetic including using materials that are already on site, are always trying to be more eco-friendly – not just in terms of the obvious things like how they recycle their waste, but their whole set up and major infrastructure elements.”
The rest of the events industry is following. “It’s like the trend for building with shipping containers,” Adam says, “once they were a radical feature, now they’re part of everyday design language and stakeholders know the strictures around them. The great benefit is that they are immediately, and very simply, reusable. They can be broken down into small units that can be handled and stored very easily, and shipped around the country far more readily without the need for bespoke trucking. Pallet walls can also take advantage of the same things all the other standard materials do. The industries that not specifically entertainment-focussed can make sense of them now. It’s nice to see more of this sort of thing.”