Sony Pictures Entertainment Joins Culver City for Compost Pilot Program

Sony Pictures Entertainment Joins Culver City for Compost Pilot Program

The Puente Hills landfill in Los Angeles County is expected to reach capacity and close in 2013, which will force the county to send its waste outside the region by rail.

That has local cities and businesses looking for ways to reduce waste ahead of the landfill’s closure. A pilot program announced last week, for example, will see the City of Culver City and Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) partner for a composting pilot program that will give new life to thousands of tons of organic waste and move Sony closer to its zero-waste-to-landfill goal. The pilot program will begin June 8.

The company announced in October it wants to boost the waste diversion rate at its Culver City studio lot to 90 percent or better by 2012, compared to its current rate of 55 percent to 60 percent. SPE estimates waste accounts for roughly 5 percent of its overall carbon footprint, John Rego, SPE’s director of environmental sustainability, told via email last week.

SPE, a division of Sony Corp., operates the company's movie and TV studios, digital production house and marketing services. Film labels include Columbia Tristar and Screen Gems, with current releases such as Angels and Demons and Rachel Getting Married. Its TV operations produce shows such as Jeopardy and Days of our Lives, among others.

The studio’s largest waste streams are generated by events held on the lot, the on-site restaurants and offices used by 3,500 employees, and construction and debris from sound stages. Its operations also produce a lot of paper and cardboard waste.

To meet its overarching waste reduction goal, SPE evaluated the materials that enter its operations and emerge as waste before it aligned its procurement process with the improvements it wanted to make. For example, SPE swapped out conventional plastics in its cafeterias for bio-based containers, forks and cups that can be composted ahead of the pilot program, Rego said.

The ISO 14001-certified studio will invest in logistical support and employee education for the program, but expects to recoup costs and accrue savings over the next decade. SPE will likely expand the compost program to other Culver City locations.

SPE already has recycling programs for wood, plastics, paper, cardboard, electronics and metal, Rego said. SPE production stages have a waste diversion rate of nearly 80 percent. Other waste diversion initiatives include TView, an electronic production management system that electronically distributes and stores all call-sheets, crew lists, script revisions, production reports and other related documents to avoid unnecessary printing and mailing.