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Sony Pictures and the Environment

by Team Sony 05/28/2008

Last week at the Sony management conference in Tokyo, I was impressed with the comments of Michael Lynton, the chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, regarding our sister company’s environmental initiatives. I am pleased that Michael agreed to share more in this guest post below.

Like most people, I’ve always been impressed by the products made by Sony Electronics. Its reputation as a leader in innovative technology is world class. But I recently had a chance to learn more about what the company is doing to protect the environment, such as its groundbreaking electronics recycling program, and that adds a whole new dimension to Sony’s contributions to our world.

Here at Sony Pictures, we share that concern about protecting the land, air and water of the planet. But some of our environmental challenges are very different from those faced by companies that manufacture consumer products. For example, we are constantly building houses, office buildings, apartments – and then within months, tearing them all down again. They’re all sets being used in movies and television shows.

That’s a lot of potential waste.  And to simply throw it all away and start from scratch the next time not only costs money, it also takes up space in landfills, and means more energy has to be used making the lumber, paint, plastic and other materials that goes into our sets.

So we do two things with used set materials. First, everything that can be used again is put in inventory.  We’ve got 13,000 set pieces in stock.  And it’s all on the Internet, with photos, so when set designers for movies or TV shows start looking for items, they don’t have to wander around a big, musty warehouse.  They just surf online for everything from sofas to lawn furniture, almost like you or I would shop from a big furniture retail store’s website.

One example: for one scene in our film, Memoirs of a Geisha, a beautiful set was created that represented a room in the home of a Japanese Baron. That set was kept after the movie was done, posted on the set recycling website, and has since been reincarnated as a spa and a restaurant, respectively, in the television shows In Case of Emergency and My Boys.

The second thing we do with set materials which are not appropriate for re-use in entertainment is donate it all to Habitat for Humanity.  We’ve given the organization more than a dozen complete or partial sets, amounting to over 1,500 tons of materiel. The charity uses it in the construction of homes for people in need, or sells it through the Habitat for Humanity home improvement store in Gardena.

So the next time you hear a film critic criticizing Hollywood for recycling plot lines, just remember, we’re not just in the business of making sequels. Our sets are being recycled, too. And that’s a good thing for our budget and the environment.

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