Over 350 people from across the wider UK cinema industry gathered his week to consider what more might be done to reduce the environmental impact of the sector and promote and ensure more sustainable practices.

Discussions were held under the umbrella of the UK Cinema Association conference for 2023 – Greening the Big Screen Experience – held at Picturehouse Central, London.

Opening the event, perhaps the first cinema conference focussed solely on issues of environmental sustainability, UK Cinema Association Chief Executive Phil Clapp said:

‘We want this event to be very much a springboard for greater collective action by our sector, recognising that we are perhaps lagging behind a number of key other industries in terms of our understanding to environmental impact of our activities, and the work that might be done to reduce those. None of those contributing across the next two days have all the answers or would say that there is not more that they could do, but all would I’m sure agree that what progress is possible will only be achievable if we all work together.’

On the opening morning, the audience for the conference heard about where sustainability sits in the list of priorities for cinema audiences, particularly in younger age groups, and the increasing pressure that the cinema sector – like many others – is coming under from brands concerned about its environmental impact when deciding whether or not to use it as an advertising outlet.

The afternoon sessions turned to recycling and waste management, recognising the role of regulation in this area,  but also the good practice being shared by the Circular Economy Group established jointly by the European cinema trade grouping UNIC and the Coca-Cola Company.

The day closed with consideration of renewable energy, and the energy and cost savings being derived by those who have made the transition from xenon to laser illumination in projection equipment.

Day two kicked off with an inspiring industry address from Natasha Padbury from the Depot, Lewes, in many ways a standard-bearer for environmentally-conscious cinema, and then turned to sustainable cinema design, build and operation, featuring an innovative project looking at ‘negative carbon’ design and the work of those behind the Arts Green Book respectively.

The afternoon attempted to bring the many themes of previous sessions together, looking at the excellent work done by the breweries and hospitality sector in establishing a cross-industry strategy, and then the work of the Albert initiative around sustainable production, before shining a light on current activity in film distribution and case studies of activity by four very different cinema operators in this area.

As noted above, the UK Cinema Association sees the conference very much as the beginning of a conversation, and one which will in turn need to involve all working across the industry.

A recording of the conference sessions, and copies of the presentations made across the two days, will be made available in due course.