Sustainability in broadcasting and media – can it be achieved?

By Edward Odevall, Red Bee Media

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Sustainability is an unavoidable topic for any business today. Finding ways to create a more sustainable future and minimizing any negative environmental impact is no longer a sideline interest; it’s now a key priority for companies worldwide. A company that doesn’t have any type of strategy for a sustainable future as part of their business will most likely lose out in the long term.

This is certainly true for the broadcasting and media industry, which has its fair share of environmental impact. One hour of television has been said to produce up to 13.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which equals the amount of energy required to run three homes for a year. With operations steadily moving into cloud-based solutions, and consumers increasingly streaming content, it seems the broadcasting, media and entertainment industry will continue to impact the environment by filling up data centers with endless racks of data. One recent study suggests that data centers will produce 3.2 % of the world’s carbon emissions by 2025. Our industry is also a traveling tribe, flying back and forth to trade shows, servicing global customers and securing new contracts all over the world.

With all this environmental impact, one might ask the question – can we as an industry come together to make a difference? The simple answer must be a resounding yes! It will, of course, take a collective effort with everyone pitching in – broadcasters, production houses, content creators and owners, technology companies and service providers must all play their part. Some good progress has been made through initiatives such as the BAFTA Albert Consortium, the BBC’s Greener Broadcasting strategy and the DPP’s Committed to Sustainability to name a few, but there is still a lot to be done.

At Red Bee, we have taken the position that a mindset around sustainability needs to be built into day-to-day operations and ultimately be a key factor in business decisions – this way, we will be able to make a real impact at all levels of the company. In 2018, we created Green Bee, a company-wide initiative to build internal awareness around the environmental impact we have as a business. Green Bee is a part of our overall environmental management system (EMS) and, with the support of our executive leadership team, it offers a platform for Red Bee’s teams across the whole organization to find ways to become more sustainable in their work, with representatives in all Red Bee offices around the world.

Measurable targets have been set in order for us to track, review and improve our environmental impact. These targets include reducing energy consumption, waste production and air travel, continuously introducing and implementing new environmental initiatives in all our offices, increasing green commuting, increasing use of renewable energy, sponsoring green charities and collaborating with customers and partners to find new ways to make operations more sustainable. Last but not least, we also aim to broaden the horizons of our staff and ensure the effects of a sustainable mindset reaches beyond the workplace – including encouraging activities such as cycling to work or having plastic-free weeks. Consumers all over the world are in a position to make a tangible change through their behavior and power in numbers. This is something that we and all other companies in the media industry need to leverage by encouraging our employees to live more sustainably.

Examples of Green Bee achievements in 2019 range from a significant reduction in company air travel to abolishing the use of plastic cups in all our offices. Recently we introduced the use of renewable energy in our Global Media Gateway data center in Hilversum, the Netherlands. We are happy to be making tangible progress and we believe our Green Bee initiative was a decisive factor in Red Bee being awarded a 4/5 score in the DPP’s Committed to Sustainability Program, where the industry average was 2/5.

There is still a long way to go and cooperation will be key to solving the sustainability issues in our industry. Initiatives like Committed to Sustainability offer an important standard to work towards, and we will also need to make progress through dialogue with partners, clients and competitors, sharing insights and best practices for becoming more sustainable. We are aiming to do a lot more of this during 2020 and we welcome any type of cooperation. As of June 2020 Red Bee is also a partner of the DPP Committed to Sustainability Program, supporting initiatives and activities aimed towards increasing sustainability in the global media industry.

We firmly believe that we have a duty to our colleagues, our customers and the planet to do whatever we can to promote sustainable working practices in our industry. Green Bee has given us the opportunity to involve people across our global operations in our attempts to do better. The company-wide feedback has exceeded our expectations and in all corners of the world, from Europe to the US, the Middle East and Asia Pacific, we’ve been met with nothing but enthusiasm and energy. We all know that, in the end, everybody wins if we work together to reduce our environmental impact.

Edward Odevall and the Green Bee team that includes Franziska Scholz, Juliet Gauthier, Martin Dover and Jesper Wendel contributed to this piece.

About Edward Odevall, Red Bee Media

Edward Odevall is the Chief Financial Officer for Red Bee Media. For content providers who want high quality media experiences for their audiences, Red Bee Media is trusted to manage and transform complex, mission-critical services with superior expertise, leading technology platforms and passion.