When the trash of many becomes a treasure for everyone
by Elisabetta Brunella
Not to resign ourselves to “trash” is one of the messages that emerges from the animated film “Trash - La leggenda della Piramide Magica”, which narrates the adventures of a series of waste products - a cardboard box, a soft-drink bottle, a battery container - all looking for a second life. But it is also one of the objectives clearly taking shape in the strategies of cinema exhibition businesses in their path towards sustainability.
Science and technology have a lot to say in this innovative approach. Suffice it to quote the exemplary case of Prof. Alireza Kharazipour, a keen film buff, who followed the intuition that came to him at the cinema, to re-use popcorn waste. Today the university where he teaches, the Georg-August in Göttingen, is in the avant-garde of experimentation in the application of this new material in various fields: from packaging (one of the sectors where most plastic is consumed) to furnishings, from the insulation of buildings to tableware. Single-use yes, but compostable.
Several cinemas are attempting to limit the use of plastic - often almost “invisible”, yet ever-present - for example in the form of the film covering the inside of paper containers.
There are two main directions in the most frequently adopted measures: to opt for biodegradable materials or those that can be recycled or to make sure that plastic recipients can be re-used several times.
The cinema Lux in Massagno, Canton Ticino, – newly renovated and with thermal insulation coating – has opted to re-use cups and flûtes, which have been personalised with the cinema’s own logo.
From the United States, in particular from the NCG chain with its 25 complexes in 9 states, comes the “free refill” formula, aiming to encourage the spectator to spend around 20 dollars on a giant bucket of popcorn at his first visit. Afterwards, for a whole year, the owner of the “magic bucket” can refill it as full as they like for just 4$ every time they revisit the cinema.
The “Recup / Rebowl” initiative also focuses on re-use. Widely used in Germany, it offers all businesses selling food and drinks in plastic containers a formula for encouraging the customer to return the classical coffee cup or salad bowl to one of almost 12,000 locations. As for the movie theatres, amongst the “early adopters”, the Cinecitta in Nürnberg stands out, the famous complex founded in 1995, which has continued not only to add to the number of its screens, but also to adopt increasingly advanced technology.
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