The event was introduced by Laura Houlgatte, CEO, UNIC, who reminded the audience about the UNIC Circular Economy Retail Group which was launched in 2019 as an initiative of the UNIC Retail Group. The key objective of this group has been to bring together experts from across the industry to shape tangible actions and next steps to create a sustainability roadmap for cinema exhibition in Europe. Following the success of this initiative, UNIC decided to broaden the conversation and involve members of its other expert groups on marketing and technology.
Laura gave an overview of the European legal framework on sustainability and the circular economy, from the Single-use Plastics EU Directive to more recent developments related to the COVID-19 crisis and the European recovery process. It was highlighted that current support plans all included references to sustainability and the need to ensure an efficient transition to green and digital. Most significantly, the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility has required that 37% of national recovery and resilience plans’ expenditures have to be dedicated to climate investments and reform, and that 20% have to foster the digital transition. Laura also described how various local support schemes for the cultural and cinema sector introduced in 2020 or 2021 required applicants to outline sustainable, long term environmental goals for their businesses.
This legal introduction was followed by a presentation from Oliver Delaney, European AFH Customers Director, The Coca-Cola Company, on the meaning of operating sustainability and why it matters. He explained how the definition of sustainability is constantly evolving and includes a wide range of social, economic and environmental topics related to day-to-day business operations – as well as a focus on transparency. Most relevant perhaps to cinema operators, sustainability is a long-term business strategy which can provide an opportunity to demonstrate the broader contribution to society that a business is making – as we continue to witness increased level of focus on how companies and brands behave and their impact on the environment.
To introduce the panel session, Adam Nelson, Group Head of Facilities, Odeon Cinemas Group, shared insights and best practices on what his company has been doing towards improving its environmental footprint and the main opportunities and challenges of developing sustainable cinema operations. He was then joined by Lucie Morvan, Head of Operations, Yorck-Kino GmbH and Kam Dosanjh, Group Director of Operational Standards & Performance, Vue Entertainment in a panel debate moderated by Helen Budge, Senior Writer, Celluloid Junkie, focusing on the idea of greening your cinema. The panelists exchanged on a range of topics, from the impact of the current social and economic context on their company’s sustainability strategy, to the differences between making an existing site more sustainable and the limitless opportunities representing by a new build. They also discussed the necessity of ensuring that sustainability remains high on the agenda of exhibitors and shared their hopes and expectations towards the future of sustainability in the cinema industry.
This debate was followed by a presentation from Jaime Tarrazon, International Relations, Spanish Cinema Federation (FECE), on the national sustainability strategy that is currently being developed by cinema operators in Spain. Amongst their key objectives, Spanish cinema operators are aiming for a progressive elimination of single-use plastics and an increased transition to 5G and laser technology by 2025.
The session also included a specific series of interventions focusing on cinema retail, presented by Prill Brewin & Sarah Girling, The Blue Stocking Partnership. These presentations gave an overview of recent legal developments related to the implementation of the Single-use Plastics EU Directive as well as current and future opportunities. Prill gave participants an update on best practices from the UNIC Circular Economy Retail Group and recent efforts by several cinemas located on Leicester Square in London, UK, to collaborate on a cup recycling project. Sarah shared details bout the Holy Grail 2.0 project, an initiative experimenting with digital watermarks for plastics to improve sorting and recycling rates in the EU. This global project has been involving a large group of major plastics producers, retailers, and packaging, recycling and materials processing companies, including The Coca-Cola Company.
The virtual session concluded with a series of presentations focusing on sustainability and cinema technology. This was introduced by a conversation with with Mike Bradbury, Head of Cinema Technology, Odeon Cinemas Group, who shared his views on challenges related to collecting accurate and relevant data on energy consumption, future concerns related to the acquisition of spare parts as well as other issues that have been highlighted in recent internal conversations of the UNIC Technology Group. Jan Daem, Environmental Compliance Officer, Barco, then gave participants a legal update , looking into the impact of existing and upcoming legislation on digital cinema equipment, from the Ecodesign Directive – which most importantly includes rules related to energy efficiency – to more specific legislations related to the use of certain materials in manufacturing process, the need to transition to more sustainable technologies or the general push for more transparency when it comes to energy labelling of digital equipment. This technology section was concluded by Benjamin Dauhrer, CTO/CMO, CINECITTA' Multiplexkino, who shared best practices and actual data on his company’s successful efforts to optimise energy usage.
UNIC is already planning future virtual sessions on sustainability, as we look forward to also discussing the topic during CineEurope 2021, which is scheduled to take place from 4-7 October in Barcelona.
In the meantime, please make sure to watch the recording of the session here and contact us in case you have any questions or wish to join the initiative!