Pre & Post Production > Set

Scenic Designers

Greener Design Studio Practices

Don’t print every script you read
Consider readings scripts electronically to cut down on paper waste. If you do have to print a script that you’re reviewing, print double-sided on post-consumer recycled content paper.

Cut down on waste and use environmentally preferable materials during model making
When constructing models, target reused materials, materials that can be reused or recycled, materials made from recycled content, and materials made from renewable content rather than non-renewable, fossil fuel-based materials.

  • Prioritize reused or salvaged materials.  For instance, build models using old packaging items such as cardboard or paperboard inserts, cardboard boxes, plastic packaging (like disposable food packaging lids), cereal boxes, and other used items.
  • Favor recycled content, renewable, and recyclable materials over non-renewable fossil fuel-based materials. For example, consider using items like cardboard and pulpboard (which is often made from recycled content—look for brown or gray instead of white or black, and check labels for recycled content percentages) instead of virgin fiber-based illustration board or plastic-based items like foam core.
  • Use non-toxic products.  Limit the use of spray paint or spray adhesives, use water-based model paints and glues, and avoid glues with higher toxicity.
  • Choose products that cut down on packaging. For example, buy products in bulk (and choose larger containers) to reduce packaging waste.

Reduce model draft printing and use environmentally preferable printing products  

  • Review drafted drawings digitally instead of printing.  If printing drafts, print double-sided and use recycled-content paper.
  • Favor printer inks that use less packaging, buy in bulk, and recycle your cartridges (many stores offer take-back programs).
  • Consider using vegetable- or soy-based inks and/or inks that are free of heavy metals.

Reuse and recycle your models

  • Break down old models into components and keep them in your stock for reuse.
  • Save base structures to reuse for new models.
  • Photograph models instead of storing them, and reuse the materials.

Greener Set Design

Incorporate used materials into your design 
Instead of using new materials, find used items that can be integrated into your design.  There are many great resources out there for used or salvaged materials:

  • Look through shop stock materials for items you can reuse.
  • Search through online resources like Art Cube or Craigslist for used materials.
  • Browse websites like Build It Green (for raw goods) or Film Biz Recycling* (for props or whole sets) for salvaged materials.
  • If you are a non-profit, visit Material for the Arts.

Use non-toxic, recycled-content, sustainably harvested, and rapidly renewable products and materials 
When approaching a project, consider the materials you want to use and research whether there is a more sustainable option—and use NRDC or the BGA as a resource.

  • Specify wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.  Avoid lauan plywood, which is a term typically used for tropical plywood harvested from rainforests and sold in the U.S.. For more information about wood purchasing, visit NRDC’s Good Wood Guide.  For examples of lauan alternatives, visit Rainforest Relief.  Visit the Wood section of this guide for more information.
  • Favor panel products made from waste-based materials, such as from recycled fibers (such as Homasote), strawboard or wheatboard (such as Kirei board), or other agricultural residues (such as Dakota Burl).
  • Favor rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo (like Plyboo), cork, linoleum, or natural rubber.
  • Avoid products with formaldehyde binders. Look for No Added Urea Formaldehyde (NAUF) certified products. 
  • Choose low- or no-VOC products for paints, adhesives, finishes, carpeting, aerosol sprays, solvents, and other set items. For more information, visit the Low-VOC Products section of this guide.
  • Favor flooring materials and adhesives that are Floor Score certified, and carpeting products that are Green Label Plus certified.
  • Use LED lighting in designs. Store fixtures from wrapped sets in your shop for future productions.  Keep a designated and organized space for salvaged fixtures.

Design with deconstruction and reuse in mind 
Favor materials that can be reused or recycled.

  • When using sheet goods, design within standard sizes to avoid scrap waste and make items easier for reuse in future productions.
  • Use screws or bolts instead of glue or other adhesives, so that sets can be easily disassembled and reused or repurposed.

Keep the venue’s space in mind when designing your set: don’t block the AC 
Talk to the theatre about where HVAC vents are located, so you can ensure your scenery leaves room for airflow.  You will not only help to keep the cast and crew comfortable, but avoid issues with air vents blowing on scenery parts during shows.

Additional Resources

Work with suppliers and shops when specifying materials

Negotiate with shops and suppliers to find more environmentally preferable options for material choices

  • Call your suppliers to ask about their company’s environmental policies and practices, as well as environmentally preferable products that they offer.  Become familiar with vendors, and talk to them directly to spec greener products.
  • Ask shops for recommendations on more sustainable materials and what raw goods from their shop stocks are available. Discuss greener options offered by their vendors, or suggest greener vendors to them.
  • While some greener materials might be more expensive, using salvaged and used materials can save money. Try to balance any price premiums of greener products with savings from low- or no-cost salvaged and reused materials.
  • When specifying used materials for your design, consider working with shops to search for used materials – often shops may need help or direction in this area.
  • Allow time for experimentation with found materials.  Allow your designs to be changed based on materials acquired – maintaining a level of flexibility will allow for more sustainable products.

Reuse and/or recycle sets at the end of the production
Where possible, stay involved in the strike of your set to ensure materials are reused, donated, or recycled as much as possible. Talk to the Tech Supervisor about how the set will be broken down, where the set materials are going, and what materials the production’s waste hauler can recycle.

  • Post components of your set on websites like Art Cube for others to claim.
  • Donate your set directly to organizations such as Film Biz Recycling.
  • Give parts of your set to other productions to reuse.
  • Help distribute components of your set to local organizations that can reuse them, such as Material for the Arts.

Visit NYC Recycles: Set and Prop Products and Services for more information about set recycling in New York.

Case Study: Peter and the Starcatcher
Tony Award-winning set designer Donyale Werle created the set for “Peter and the Starcatcher” almost entirely out of recycled materials. Using parts of the Off Broadway set, Werle worked closely with Showman Fabricators to create designs based on and to source recycled materials, creating patterns with found items such as bottle caps, empty cans, kitchen implements, zippers, corks, ropes, chains, old scaffolds and pallets, and many other salvaged materials. Her work on this set won a 2012 Tony Award for Outstanding Set Design.   To learn more about the project, visit Sustainable Design: Peter and the Starcatcher or watch a video about the set’s construction here.

Scenic Shops

Getting Started: Environmental Policy

Many companies have established organization-wide environmental policies to define and advance their commitment to these values. An environmental policy sends a clear message to employees, vendors, and the community at large. It’s a meaningful first step in any effort to improve a company’s environmental performance. Consider implementing your own environmental policy using the sample policy below. Also consult Julie’s Bicycle Environmental Policy and Action Guidelines for detailed guidance on creating an environmental policy and action plan.

Sample environmental policy
Human activity can have harmful effects on ecological systems and public health by contributing to serious environmental concerns such as deforestation, global warming, water pollution, and biodiversity loss.. Recognizing this, [our organization] is committed to reducing our environmental footprint and promoting environmental stewardship at all levels of our organization. Our goal is to operate a world-class professional entertainment business and to provide an exciting experience to audiences while minimizing our organization’s impact on the environment and helping to preserve the ability of future generations to safely live and perform in our shared natural environment. 

[Our shop] will strive to identify and purchase environmentally preferable supplies and services for all productions where economically feasible. Wherever possible, [our organization] will strive to minimize pollution and waste, conserve energy and water, protect habitats, support renewable energy resources, buy environmentally friendly products, and encourage environmentally preferable transportation.

These efforts will extend to contractor and supplier relationships, where [our organization] will encourage contractors and suppliers serving or otherwise acting on behalf of the organization to meet our standards of environmental performance.

Employee understanding and involvement is essential to the implementation of this environmental policy. All employees will receive a copy of this policy and be educated about our organization’s efforts to improve our environmental performance. Employees at all levels of the organization will be involved in supporting our goals.

Our commitment to environmental stewardship is long-term. A healthy environment benefits everyone – staff, cast, crew, sponsors, audiences, and the community at large.

Examples of environmental policies from the theatrical industry

Examples of corporate environmental policies

Environmental benefits
Drafting an environmental policy sends a message to employees, vendors, other shops, and theatregoers that your organization considers environmentally intelligent practices an organizational priority. When a company adopts such a policy, it becomes easier to meet these goals.

Greener Shop Operations and Practices

Many of the facility guidelines from the Venue sections of this guide will apply to scenic shops as well. For detailed information about greening your facilities, consult the Venues sections of this guide. Visit the Green Office section of this guide for more information about greening your shop’s office practices.

Green Captain
Elect a Green Captain from your shop operations to be in charge of green procedures and act as a resource for all your employees and clients.  See the Green Captains section of the Broadway Green Alliance website for more information on the Green Captains program. Consider the following tips to incorporate greener practices and equipment into your operations.

Energy-efficient lighting and equipment
Shops typically occupy large warehouse spaces that require a significant amount of lighting.  Installing energy-efficient lighting and motion sensors throughout your shop can add up to considerable savings.  Choose Energy Star-rated equipment when possible, and switch to rechargeable batteries for battery-operated devices. Visit the Energy section of this guide for more information.

Case Study: Showman Fabricators worked with ConEdison to install variable frequency drives and energy-efficient controls and motors on dust collectors and computer numerically controlled (CNC) routing equipment in their shop, resulting in savings of 91,000 kWh annually.  The upgrades cost $42,800, but Con Edison covered $12,000 through its Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency program.  Showman expects a 3-year payback on their investment, and additional savings thereafter.

Waste reduction and recycling

  • Set up a detailed waste management system in your shop, including bulk recycling programs for plastics, steel, aluminum, glass, carpeting, wood, and other materials frequently used in your shop.
  • Make sure recycling containers are clearly labeled and recycling procedures are explained to artisans, technicians, and other shop personnel.
  • Make sure your waste hauler can recycle these materials and can provide your shop with recycling rates for each material.
  • Build relationships with local organizations that can help you source reused materials and salvage materials after strike.
  • Use reusable blankets for wrapping, instead of disposable materials like cardboard or bubble wrap.

Greening Your Fabrications

Work closely with designers in pre-production 
Start green design planning in pre-production. Work with designers on incorporating greener design elements early in the process to save on costs and allow more time for innovation and experimentation with greener materials.  If sets have already been designed, talk to your clients about potentially greener material options and techniques for building their set components.

Incorporate used materials into your constructions 
Instead of using new materials, work with designers to find used items that can be integrated into your set construction. Offer designers salvaged materials from previous productions that your shop has dismantled. There are also many great resources for used or salvaged materials. Search through online resources like Art Cube or Craigslist for used materials. Browse places like Build It Green (for raw goods) or Film Biz Recycling (for props or whole sets) for salvaged materials.

Showcase green products in your resource library: Use non-toxic, recycled-content, sustainably harvested, and rapidly renewable products and materials 
When approaching a project, discuss the materials the designer wants to use and research whether there is a more sustainable option—and use NRDC or the BGA as a resource. Tell your clients that you can help them make more sustainable choices when specifying materials for their sets. Incorporate greener product samples into your product catalogues, and clearly label greener options with their environmental attributes.

  • Specify wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.  Avoid lauan plywood, which is tropical hardwood harvested from rainforests. For more information about wood purchasing, visit NRDC’s Good Wood Guide.  For examples of lauan alternatives, visit Rainforest Relief.  Visit the FSC Wood section of this guide for more information.
  • Favor panel products made from waste-based materials, such as from recycled fibers (such as Homasote), strawboard or wheatboard (such as Kirei board), or other agricultural residues (such as Dakota Burl).
  • Favor rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo (like Plyboo), cork, linoleum, or natural rubber.
  • Use non-toxic materials in the construction and maintenance of costumes and sets. For more information see the Safer Products and Chemicals section.
  • Avoid products with formaldehyde binders. Look for No Added Urea Formaldehyde (NAUF) certified products. 
  • Choose low- or no-VOC products for paints, adhesives, finishes, carpeting, aerosol sprays, solvents, and other set items.
  • Favor flooring materials and adhesives that are Floor Score certified, and carpeting products that are Green Label Plus certified.
  • Use LED lighting in designs. Store fixtures from wrapped sets in your shop for future productions.  Keep a designated and organized space for salvaged fixtures.

Design with deconstruction and reuse in mind 
Favor materials that can be reused or recycled.

  • When using sheet goods, design within standard sizes to avoid scrap waste and make items easier for reuse in future productions.
  • Use screws or bolts instead of glue or other adhesives, so that sets can be easily disassembled and reused or repurposed. 

Additional Resources

Green Purchasing Policy

In an effort to enhance their environmental performance, many companies have instituted purchasing policies that give preference to environmentally intelligent products. Consider implementing your own environmentally preferable purchasing policy based on the sample policy below.  Work with your clients and suppliers to source and promote greener materials.

Sample purchasing policy
The goal of this policy is to ensure that products and services purchased or contracted for by [our shop] conform to [the shop’s] Environmental Policy. [Our shop] will strive, where feasible, to purchase environmentally preferable products and services that meet the organization’s needs.

Where possible, purchasing decisions shall favor:

  • Products produced locally or regionally
  • Products that contain the highest percentage of postconsumer recycled content possible
  • Wood products that are salvaged and/or FSC-certified
  • Products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or are made with renewable energy
  • Products that are reusable, recyclable, or compostable
  • Products that eliminate or reduce the use of chemicals hazardous to the environment and public health
  • Products that reduce air and water pollution
  • Products with minimal packaging
  • Suppliers that provide environmentally preferable products and can document the supply-chain impacts of their efforts
  • Products that serve several functions (e.g. multipurpose cleaner) and reduce the overall number of products purchased

Environmentally preferable products and services that are of comparable quality and price to their standard counterparts shall receive purchasing preference. In situations where environmentally preferable products are unavailable or impractical, secondary considerations shall include the environmental management practices of suppliers and producers. 

The purchase of environmentally preferable products is part of the organization’s long-term commitment to the environment. By sending a clear signal to designers, employees, suppliers, and audiences, [our shop] hopes to support wider adoption of environmentally preferable products and practices.

Implementing Environmental Procurement
Purchasing policies can be as prescriptive as your shop chooses. In some cases, environmentally preferable products can be purchased at little or no increase in cost. And in those cases where the price of environmentally superior products exceeds those currently used, the increased cost can sometimes be mitigated by more efficient operations. Recycled paper, for example, sometimes costs more than virgin paper. However, this cost can be offset by double-sided printing and reduction in paper use.

Increased costs for greener items can also often be offset by the use of salvaged or reused items in other parts of the set’s construction. Discuss cost balancing options with designers and productions when specifying materials.

A company-wide purchasing policy encourages sustainable purchasing practices in the shop and helps ensure that green efforts do not fade with employee turnover.  A purchasing policy can also send a message to designers and clients that sustainability is a priority for your shop. Purchasing policies should be comprehensive and cover a wide range of products and services. Policies can vary widely, and you should implement a policy that works best for your organization.

Corporate purchasing policy examples

Additional resources

Wood Products

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international agency that tracks and certifies sustainably-harvested wood and wood products. The amount of FSC-certified wood available in the market is growing every year. When building sets or props, consult with your suppliers and try to use FSC-certified products.

To find suppliers of FSC-certified wood products, submit a product inquiry through the FSC website, or visit the Forest Stewardship Council Retailers List. Be sure to search for FSC products, and not those certified through the industry vehicle SFI.

If you are unable to find FSC-certified wood, at minimum, ensure that any wood products are guaranteed to be legally harvested. Consult the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species to confirm that you’re not buying an illegally traded species and inadvertently contributing to the destruction of a dwindling resource.

Environmentally preferable alternatives to virgin wood products include repurposed wood or recycled content plastic lumber. For additional environmental considerations when purchasing wood-based products, visit The NRDC Consumer’s Guide to Buying Wood.

Environmental benefits
Wood that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council has been harvested in a more sustainable manner with fewer habitat and cultural impacts. Forests create oxygen, protect biodiversity, filter pollutants from the air, and help mitigate global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas. They also play an essential role in water purification and can help mitigate floods and erosion.

By purchasing FSC-certified wood, your organization is supporting more responsible forestry practices that help protect forest ecosystems. FSC is the only certification system acknowledged by the world’s leading environmental organizations, including NRDC, to provide adequate protection for the world’s forests.

Additional resources

Safer Products and Chemicals

Indoor air pollutants
Certain products and equipment can release into the air harmful chemicals including volatile organic compounds that can have an adverse impact on the health of people in your facility. Indoor air quality is sometimes much worse than outdoor air quality and indoor pollutants have many different sources, including paints, printer cartridges, adhesives, HVAC systems, portable generators, chairs and carpets, and other types of office equipment.

The sources of indoor air pollutants are diverse, and so are the solutions. Consider starting with the following suggestions, and consult the EPA’s Building Air Quality Guide for Facility Managers for more information about the reduction of indoor pollution.

  • Keep MSDS (material safety and data) sheets on all chemicals used in all of your shop, and make sure all staff members know where they are located.
  • When fabricating sets and scenery, source, request, test, and build with the least toxic materials suitable for each job.  Look for products that are certified by the MPI Green Performance Standard, Green Seal, and Green Guard.
  • Favor non-toxic, water-based products instead of solvent-based products when choosing paints, varnishes, inks, thinners, aerosol spray products, leather and textile dyes, permanent marking pens, glues and adhesives.
  • Clean steel with non-solvent based cleaners, like citrus-based products.
  • Use powder coatings, which have low- or no-VOC content.
  • Monitor for common indoor air pollutants such as radon and carbon monoxide.
  • Centralize printing and copying, which can reduce toner use and save money.
  • Purchase products with low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Favor non-toxic cleaning and maintenance products.
  • Limit use of indoor pesticides and investigate less toxic pest control methods.

Avoid products with the following ingredients:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • Phthalate plasticizers (often referred to as “fragrances” on product labels)
  • Brominated flame retardants (when possible)
  • Chromium
  • Chromate copper arsenate

Health impacts
The health effects of air pollutants vary depending on the particular pollutant. Elevated levels of SO2, NOX, VOCs, and particulate matter can cause or aggravate asthma and other serious respiratory symptoms, especially in children. Regular exposure to other pollutants, such as lead, benzene, radon, carbon monoxide, or pesticides, can also have serious effects on neurological, reproductive, and immune systems, and can even cause cancer. By monitoring for common indoor air pollutants such as CO and radon, your organization can help protect the health of employees, customers, performers, and audience members.

Additional resources on indoor air pollutants

Low-VOC products

One of the important families of chemicals to consider when attempting to improve indoor air quality is volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Many of these chemicals are harmful to human health, and they are emitted by many common products.

Review the list of potentially harmful product categories below and consider sending a letter to your organization’s suppliers asking about the VOC emissions of the products you are currently using.

What are low-VOC products?
Many commonly used products, such as paints and adhesives, emit a variety of harmful chemicals into the air for months after they have been applied. These chemicals, collectively termed volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can have a negative impact on indoor air quality and public health. While VOCs were once necessary for good performance in many products, most companies now produce cost-effective low-VOC replacements.

Products in your shop that might emit VOCs include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Paints
  • Paint thinner
  • Solvents
  • Wood preservatives
  • Finishes
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Cleaners and disinfectants
  • Air fresheners
  • Stored fuels
  • Dry-cleaned clothing
  • Carpets
  • Caulks and sealants
  • Adhesives
  • Office furniture

Product specifications
“Low” concentrations of VOCs will vary according to the product type. For interior paints and stains, for example, low VOC-emitting products are those with VOC concentrations below 50 g/L. The best way to ensure that the products your shop purchases are low-emission is to consult with your suppliers. Consider using the guidelines in the following sample letter to obtain information on the VOC emissions of the products your shop buys.

Vendors
Where possible, purchase products that have been certified by Green Seal or Green Guard. The EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database and the Oikos Green Product Database are also excellent sources for product specifications, contract language, and lists of preferable products.

Sample letter to current suppliers
Dear _______,

[Our shop] has initiated an effort to improve our environmental performance in all aspects of our operations. We would like to meet with you to discuss these objectives in more detail. We would also like to discuss ways to cost-effectively switch to less harmful products within the next few years.

We would like to reduce as much as possible the harmful effects associated with our operations, and we would like to speak with you about low-VOC alternatives to the products that we are currently using. 

Please call me as soon as you can so that we can set a time for a meeting to pursue this discussion.

Environmental benefits
Reducing the VOCs emitted by the products your shop uses can have a number of positive effects on both public health and the environment. Tests have shown that indoor concentrations of VOCs can be 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor concentrations. Immediately after the application of a high-VOC product, indoor levels can be over 1,000 times higher than outdoor levels. High concentrations of VOCs are known to cause a number of health problems, including eye and throat irritation, headaches, and damage to liver and nervous systems. In addition, some VOCs are thought to cause cancer. By purchasing and using low-emissions products, your organization reduces health risks to employees, customers, performers, and audience members.

In addition to the known health effects, VOCs are a principal contributor to ground-level ozone, which in turn is a principal component of urban smog. And when VOCs are deposited on outdoor impervious surfaces or in landfills, they can find their way into the water supply through urban runoff and leaching. Reducing the VOC content of your organization’s purchases helps to reduce all of these negative impacts.

Additional resources on VOCs

Ozone-friendly products

Some products contain substances that break down the protective ozone layer that shields our planet from harmful ultraviolet rays. While these products are being phased out in many countries, you should check to make sure that the products you are using are not damaging the ozone layer.

Consider consulting your suppliers about the ozone-depleting potential of the products they provide. The product specifications listed below should serve as a useful guide on how to avoid these chemicals.

Product specifications
Many products contain chemicals that can destroy the protective layer of ozone that surrounds our planet. You should try to avoid products with the following kinds of chemicals:

  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • Halons
  • Carbon tetrachloride
  • Methyl chloroform
  • Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • Methyl bromide

Vendors
Green Seal’s preferable product list contains several less harmful options for a range of product categories. You may also want to consult EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database, which contains product specifications and contract language for a wide variety of additional products.

Sample letter to current suppliers
Dear _______,

[Our shop] has initiated an effort to improve our environmental performance in all aspects of our operations. We would like to meet with you to discuss these objectives in more detail. We would also like to discuss ways to cost-effectively switch to products within the next few years that do not contribute to the depletion the ozone layer. 

We would like to reduce as much as possible the harmful effects associated with our operations, and we would like to speak with you to ensure that the products we are purchasing do not contribute to this problem.

Please call me at your earliest convenience to discuss this further. 

Environmental benefits
Beneficial atmospheric ozone – as opposed to harmful ground-level ozone – filters out ultraviolet radiation from the sun that can cause cancer. Many products, such as refrigerants and aerosols, were once made with compounds that destroyed ozone when they were released into the atmosphere. In 1985, scientists discovered that concentrations of ozone in the atmosphere were falling rapidly, especially near the poles. This drop has since been attributed to ozone depleting substances such as CFCs and HCFCs. Although the Montreal Protocol treaty has greatly reduced the use of CFCs, some products in some countries are still made with these harmful chemicals.

Additional resources on ozone depletion

Disposing of Hazardous Waste

When hazardous wastes such as paints, solvents, used oil, cleaners, pesticides and other chemicals are improperly disposed, they can pose significant risks to public health and the environment.  When they are thrown away in the trash, they end up in landfills, and these toxic compounds can leach into soil and water, polluting lakes and streams and making them unfit for drinking, swimming, fishing, and supporting wildlife.

Find ways to minimize hazardous waste and reuse these materials within your shop.  Consider the following tips:

  • Use leftover paint from previous set constructions as primer or back paint.
  • Consolidate matching colors of unused paints, clearly label them and use on future productions (or donate them to local organizations).
  • Dry out and reuse or recycle empty paint cans.

If you cannot reuse or donate excess materials, your waste hauler may be a valuable source of information on how to properly dispose of hazardous wastes in your area. Many states have also organized online “materials exchanges” that identify options for selling and donating products.

For listings of recycling service providers and firms that can safely manage potentially hazardous wastes, visit Earth 911’s Business Resources Directory and the Environmental Yellow Pages.

Also consider joining the EPA’s free WasteWise program, which provides members with several benefits, including a technical assistance team that can help you conduct a waste audit and reduce waste.

In addition to making sure these wastes are disposed of correctly, where possible, you should purchase less toxic and reusable products to reduce the amount of potentially hazardous wastes needing disposal. See the Purchasing section for more product purchasing tips.

Additional resources

Set Disposal and Recycling

When a show ends, there are many ways to keep your set from ending up in a landfill.

Work with the production and encourage them to find ways to sell, reuse, recycle, or donate set materials to local organizations. Reuse set components like platforms, flats, and step units, and consider taking materials or parts of the set back to your shop for reuse or repurposing into future sets, such as salvaged plywood, steel, legs, and light fixtures.

Create space at your shop to store set pieces, materials, props, and lighting equipment for reuse, and offer designers ways to reuse these items.  At your shop, recycle any remaining materials like wood, glass, steel, paper, and aluminum and hire a local waste management company that is committed to recycling.

Partner with local material donation organizations like Materials for the Arts or WasteMatch to facilitate the reuse of sets and props.  Consult the list below for more set recycling resources and organizations.

For assistance and resources to help your show close in a green manner please email green@broadway.org as soon as you learn of the closing. Ask the BGA about how to draw up a “Strike Plan” well before your show will close to make the sorting, recycling, and re-use of items as easy as possible.

Visit NYC Recycles: Set and Prop Products and Services for more information about set recycling.

Set recycling options in New York City
–> Film Biz Recycling

Contact: Eva Radke |  info@filmbizrecycling.org |718-392-3304

  • Accepts items from entertainment productions; view the full list here.
  • Items must be dropped off.
  • Materials are partially re-purposed, recycled, or rented or sold for reuse.
  • Works closely with Meserole Recycling, Materials for the Arts, and NYC Wastematch to achieve highest level of reuse and re-purposing with local NYC arts organizations and schools.

–> Build It Green

Contact: Justin Green | justin@bignyc.org  | 718-777-0132

  • Accepts clean construction materials, doors, windows, hardware, fixtures, cabinets, flats and platforms, etc.
  • They have limited trucking. They take deliveries at their Astoria warehouse, but large deliveries need to be cleared. Provides tax deduction for all contributions.
  • Resells usable construction materials to the public at discounted pricing.

–> Materials for the Arts

Contact:  info@mfta.org | 718-729-3001

  • Accepts usable props, furniture, electronics, soft goods and fabric for donation to NYC not-for-profit arts organizations and schools.
  • Limited trucking. Accepts drop-offs at their LIC warehouse.
  • On-site warehouse space is limited, but they will list larger items on a list-serve for direct donation.
  • Provides tax deduction for all contributions.

–> NYC WasteMatch

Contact: Mary Ellen McCarry | info@wastematch.org | 212-650-5832

  • Matches users interested in reuse of items.
  • For best results allow ample lead-time, provide detailed description of items, and post photographs.
  • Works closely with Theatre Biz Recycling.
  • Trucking needs to be arranged separately.

–> Set Recycling Hotline
Contact: Julia Rubin | setrecyclinghotline@yahoo.com |212-650-7566

  • Locates theatrical users interested in using parts of sets for other productions.
  • Plan in advance and have photos of sets.
  • Trucking needs to be arranged separately.
  • Work with NYC WasteMatch.

–> Showman Fabricators Inc.

Contact:  718-935-9899

  • Provides full take-back service for all projects they build.
  • Scenery is trucked back to Showman’s warehouse to be repurposed and recycled, minimizing materials sent to landfills.

Set recycling carters in New York City
–> Filco Carting
Contact: John Okun | jokun@filcocarting.com | 718-456-5000

  • Provides recycling services, roll-off dumpsters, and larger tractor-trailers.
  • Provides recycling services for Theatre Biz Recycling.
  • Can supply LEED reporting on request.

–> Royal Waste Services
Contact: Eric Bliss | info@royalwaste.com |718-468-8679

  • Provides recycling services, roll-off dumpsters, and larger tractor-trailers.
  • Can supply LEED reporting on request.

–> Augliera Trucking, Inc.
Contact: Rob Augliera | Info@augliera.com | 203-937-9080

  • Provides trucks for post-production load-outs.
  • Materials are diverted for reuse and recycling to the extent possible.
  • Recycling reports are issued after trailers are unloaded.