I was surprised to read Des Pugh’s description of the new business regulations for waste and recycling being introduced in Wales in April 2024 as “draconian”.

I work as a production sustainability advisor to film and TV productions being made in Wales, including a Netflix feature film and various TV drama series. For the last three years I have been organising waste and recycling from these productions to the single stream standards that are coming in across Wales from next April.

To reassure local businesses, once you have good systems in place it is not difficult to do. By separating into single streams, it is possible to achieve much higher recycling rates – this often brings cost savings too.

We are fortunate in Wales that we have many great local suppliers helping us find ways to recycle even the trickiest materials (such as polystyrene and ‘stretchy’ plastic).

Recycling rates for all of our location waste on my most recent production were between 80 and 90%. We also sent all of our food waste to be processed via anaerobic digestion, turning it into free electricity for the National Grid, with a secondary bi-product highly nutritious fertiliser provided free to local farmers located near the digester.

Had this food waste gone to landfill it would have released high levels of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – into the atmosphere. Instead, through recycling our food waste, the methane is harnessed and turned into electricity.

To give you some figures, during the making of one feature film we recycled just over four tonnes of food waste and compostables, and through the recycling process created over 2,000 Kwh of free electricity!

Processing our food waste this way also saved us hundreds of pounds, since food significantly adds to the weight of mixed general waste, making it more expensive to dispose of.

On my productions, we make sure that any food and other resources that are able to be donated are taken to roughsleeper shelters and food banks in the communities where we are filming, which also reduces the amount we are throwing away.

To put the urgency of these new business waste regulations in context, the UK is currently using three planets worth of its share of global resources. We face an uncertain future with the rapidly escalating climate emergency; our resources are being squeezed and supply chains frequently interrupted. Inflation and the cost of living crisis mean that we are all feeling the pinch.

This means that all of us need to use resources more efficiently, reducing waste and keeping resources in circulation for longer. In our workplaces and in our households we all need to move towards better habits, taking shared responsibility for the waste that we create. It is not difficult and it should save businesses money too.

Tilly Ashton