No. 2 polluter: Hollywood

KAI RYSSDAL: Many a Cold War Hollywood blockbuster had huge explosions and whiz-bang special effects. Even today all that movie magic can help a picture clean up at the box office. But it leaves a big mess behind. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sam Eaton reports on a new study out today.


SAM EATON: Movies like the "Matrix Reloaded," with its elaborate special effects and cities built from scratch, can generate thousands of tons of waste. All the steel, wood and cement. Not to mention hundreds of idling semi trucks and generators.

UCLA atmospheric science professor Richard Turco co-authored today's study.

RICHARD TURCO: All of that material has to be produced somewhere. It has to be transported. It has to be processed. Then it has to be trashed.

Turco's research compared the film and television business to sectors like apparel and semiconductor manufacturing. He says the only industry that belched more emissions and consumed more resources was petroleum refining.

Ted Reiff with the building materials recycling company called The ReUse People says the reason Hollywood is so wasteful is simple.

TED REIFF: It's economics, and it's just cheaper for them to call in a demolition contractor and have the material just thrown into containers and hauled off to the landfill.

But Reiff says there are signs of change. Producers for the Matrix sequels recycled 95 percent of the waste they generated. The reason? The city complained that the 11,000 tons of waste from the set would have overwhelmed its local landfill.

In Los Angeles, I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.

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