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Many of you reading this will have enjoyed seeing productions at the Royal Exchange Theatre and probably never considered the size of the theatre’s carbon footprint! Indeed, with all the equipment involved in putting on a production lasting around six weeks it is likely to be quite large. The lighting department alone has the use of 600 lamps, 4 computerised lighting boards, 30 colour changes, as well as radio continuity and miles of cable.

However, the various departments involved in the technical side of putting on a play are mindful of the need to make the Royal Exchange more environmentally friendly which should also lead to financial efficiencies, always a consideration in these straitened times. An environmental committee was set up (how Methodist is that!) and staff were asked to make suggestions for a greener theatre. There are now recycling facilities for paper, cardboard, glass tins and plastic (a considerable amount in a theatre of this size). The workshop which builds all the sets now recycles more of the material from previous productions to build new sets, even finding a new use for eleven tonnes of sand from the production of ‘The Flags’. Costumes have always found new uses either in the costume hire department or on loan to other companies.

Already the impact is considerable. In one year there was a reduction in electricity of 8%, a cost saving of about £10,000. The volume of waste disposal has been cut by nearly 25% and of course the re-use of materials for productions has also led to savings. Other things now being considered are a biomass burner at the workshop using wood off-cuts for heating, using materials from sustainable sources for in-house productions and the phasing in of LED lights in the Great Hall. There is a tremendous loyalty to the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and it is good to know that the staff are taking seriously its environmental responsibilities. It is not only the Green Room that will be green in future. Thanks to Barry James, of The Royal Exchange Theatre for this information.

BARBARA BALAAM, Member of Marple Church Environment Group
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