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The Entertainment Industry's Battle Against Single-Use Plastics


The glitz and glamour of Hollywood often obscures a darker reality—the entertainment industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental waste. However, there is a ray of hope as two major industry organizations, SAG-AFTRA and the Motion Picture Association (MPA), have joined forces to form the Green Council. This initiative is committed to promoting environmentally conscious and sustainable practices in the entertainment industry. At the forefront of their mission is the elimination of single-use plastics, both on and off-screen. By leveraging the influential platform of Hollywood actors and productions, the Green Council seeks to challenge audiences worldwide to make a difference by eradicating single-use plastics.

Single-use plastics are undeniably common in the film and television industry. The 2019 Producers Guild Green Report states that a mere 60-day film shoot consumes approximately 39,000 single-use water bottles. This staggering statistic underscores the urgent need to address the industry's environmental footprint.

In the pursuit of a plastic-free future for the entertainment industry, the Begley-Cohen Test emerges as a powerful tool, inspired by and modeled after the Bechdel-Wallace Test, which measures female representation in media. The Begley-Cohen Test is designed to help audiences quickly assess the representation and prevalence of single-use plastic within the content they consume.

A film or TV show can pass The Begley-Cohen Test if it meets one of two criteria: (1) No single-use plastics appear on screen, meaning the film/show is set in a time with no plastic, or plastics are replaced with refillable, reusable, or package-free options; or (2) If a single-use plastic item appears on screen, it is portrayed or discussed as problematic. This test helps viewers become aware of the presence of single-use plastics in their entertainment choices and encourages a shift in perspective.

Ed Begley Jr., one of the creators of The Begley-Cohan Test emphasizes the importance of this test, stating, "What we see is what we do, and the entertainment industry can help audiences shift away from our toxic throwaway culture." He believes that the Begley-Cohen Test is an invaluable tool in the endeavor to Flip the Script on Plastics in Hollywood.

To further advance the cause, the Plastic Pollution Coalition sees the Begley-Cohen Test as a jumping-off point for content creators. It encourages them to remove single-use plastics from storylines and sets and address plastic's presence in meaningful and responsible ways. By doing so, creators can play a vital role in altering society's perception of throwaway plastic as normal, as Dianna Cohen, CEO of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, explains.

A thought-provoking report titled "Flip The Script: Can Hollywood Help Us Imagine a Future Without Plastic?" suggests a powerful shift in perspective. Instead of simply reflecting the unfortunate reality of excessive plastic use, films and TV shows could help change our society's throwaway culture. By modeling life with less single-use plastic and portraying a healthier, more just future, the entertainment industry can lead the charge in environmental responsibility.

To help make the transition to a more sustainable Hollywood, The Green Production Guide was created by the studios and industry professionals to help plan, communicate, implement, and track sustainable production practices on sets. It also enables the calculation of a show's carbon emissions and offers guidance on greening content. This comprehensive guide empowers professionals in the industry to make informed, eco-friendly decisions and incorporate sustainability into their work.


For more information from our sources and the fight against plastic in the entertainment industry, please visit the links below.