August 4, 2023

Opening a (Portable) door to sustainability down under

albert sat down with Sarah Tosone, an Environmental Manager from Create Without Waste, who has experience on many big budget and large scale productions across Australia.

Powered by

How Sarah Started

Sarah began her career in production, working for over ten years on features, documentaries and TV. She had an interest in environmental sustainability so when an Environmental Steward position was available on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in 2015, she knew she had to apply:

“The role on Pirates was pivotal in changing the direction of my career. I found a role in the industry which strongly aligned with my personal values and which gave me the chance to make a difference environmentally. I was able to work at a grassroots level with local communities, organisations and councils, learn new skills and pass them on to others.”

At that time, separating waste on set wasn’t commonplace and no vendors were able to compost organics at large volumes. Sarah did some investigating and connected with local businesses and councils to trial one of the first industrial compost systems in the area:

“Australia is arguably ten years behind the UK, Canada and USA when it comes to sustainable practices on set. However, thanks to international co-productions such as The Portable Door, the situation is improving as they are requiring environmentally sustainable practices on set in Australia”

“ We’re incredibly proud that The Portable Door is the first Australian feature film to adopt the BAFTA albert process. With a story that takes you on a fantastical journey from the heart of London to some of the most spectacular natural environments in the world, it was important for us to make a huge impact on our audience and zero impact on the planet. All our departments did a fantastic job embracing sustainable objectives to lighten our carbon footprint and help work towards our goal of being a carbon neutral Production. This included creating a circular economy that acquired recycled materials from previous productions, which on completion would be again recycled to other productions or donated back to charities or local organisations. We also put in place a very effective waste management and composting program, plus reduced our meat consumption with the introduction of Vegan Fridays, which became an instant hit! ” — Todd Fellman, Producer, The Portable Door

Working on The Portable Door

For The Portable Door, Sarah was contacted by Line Producer Stuart Wood to take on the environmental manager role and she jumped at the chance:

“I’m really proud of this production. I got to work with a fabulous cast, crew and dedicated eco team of Greg Howell and Murray Morris from Climate Wave. It was great to see sustainability included in regular HOD meetings in the pre-production phase and planning. It was a welcomed part of the journey, which made the experience extra special. Environmental sustainability has an impact on every department and must be an integral part of the process.” 

Dealing with issues

Sarah’s work on The Portable Door wasn’t without its issues. Waste management on set can be confusing and contamination was always a concern especially with bio plastic PLA packaging sold with regular plastics. Reusables are better however can be more labour intensive to implement. COVID-19 also provided challenges as workplaces reverted back to plastic bottles and single use plastics. However, with support from albert and Sky UK, reusable bottles were safely used and refilled:

“The power of the entertainment industry does have sway in the local community and it’s important to use this in a positive way for the greater good.”

“ Our sustainability program is something that I’m very proud of and it’s nice to have buy-in from the cast and the crew as far as everybody being open minded. It’s been wonderful to have Sarah on board to help us analyse that and having programs like albert give you a template to be able to measure your impact from the start and track that through to the finish. We not only can have a better approach to sustainability but we can actually monitor our progress through the whole production and be able to measure that and hopefully improve on that in terms of refining systems and finding ways to make us more efficient on other products. ” — Jeffrey Walker, Director, The Portable Door


“ Striving to improve systems in a more environmentally sustainable way is constant, no matter how big or small. This often requires problem solving, researching, planning, logistics, learning, being creative and trialling new technologies and processes. ” — Sarah Tosone - Environmental Manager

Material reuse and recycling

A massive effort was made during wrap with the challenge of a very tight deadline to divert materials from landfill and keep materials in the economy:

“We trialled a new Construction Demolition Diversion skip bin with Suez who could divert materials including woods, green waste, concrete and metals, at their end.
We also put into practice a ‘One person’s trash is another’s treasure’ approach. Donations to approximately 15 local charities and organisations made positive social impacts in the local community and prevented a lot of perfectly good items from going to landfill.”

Vehicles and trucks became substitutes for skip bins and were sometimes used to deliver materials to organisations but often organisations would collect directly from from the production to ensure it weren’t giving them unwanted items.

Highlights included donations of towels to animal rehabilitation groups, reams of paper and art and craft materials from Props and Set Dec to various kindergartens and schools, stage flats to another film production, wood offcuts to the Men’s Shed (who made wooden toys), perishable and non-perishable foods to Oz Harvest, E-waste to Substation 33 (a social enterprise), containers for change to the domestic violence charity Hearts of Purple and miscellaneous items often thought of as ‘junk’ to Reverse Garbage:

“albert case studies were shared every week to all crew and was an excellent way to share knowledge and insight into how films are getting made. It is nice it has come full circle with a case study about this film, The Portable Door.

Other resources