Sustainable Film

Sustainable film with BS 8909

"BS 8909 is an exciting step forward – it gives the film industry a robust framework for managing our social and environmental impacts."

– Colin Firth

See the press release

Sustainable film attracts better talent, bigger audiences and has lower costs.

It's no surprise then that the film industry is fast catching up with famous actors who have been espousing environmental responsibiity for years.

So what is a sustainable film? and how do you go about creating one?

A new British Standard on sustainable film can help you understand and achieve better sustainability.

What is ‘sustainability’?

BS 8909 uses the most widely adopted definition of sustainability, that of the World Commission on Environment and Development. It says that “sustainable development is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

In practice, sustainable behaviour takes three areas into consideration: social, financial and environmental. To improve their sustainability, organizations must safeguard social and economic resources and must not take more out of the planet than the planet can renew.

Why sustainable film?

Aside from the moral imperative, sustainability influences all the levers that organizations use to create value: from helping recruit and retain staff to brand-building.

There's also money to be saved from better resource and energy use. Exemplary sustainability performance leads to recognition from peers, audiences, investors, stakeholders and NGOs. It reduces reputational risk and enhances competitiveness. It helps organizations get on top of existing regulatory requirements and ahead of future legislation.

There is also a clear correlation between sustainability performance and profitability. The well-respected Morgan Stanley Capital World Index showed that companies that improved their sustainability performance between 2006 and 2008 financially out-performed their peers in 2008/9 by more than 11 per cent.

How does BS 8909 work?

The standard works by asking organizations to state what they want to achieve within their organization in terms of sustainability and to describe what they will do to achieve their aims.

Organizations then implement their plans and review actual activity and outcomes against their initial objectives, which must take social, economic and environmental issues into account.

Accurate records are kept throughout so that results can be reviewed and improved on in the future.

Historically this Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle has proved an effective way of ‘holding’ organizations to their stated course. It has produced significant results for hundreds of thousands of organizations using other management systems standards such as ISO 9001 for quality management, and ISO 14001 for environmental management.

>> Next tab: Case studies show how BS 8909 helped Ealing Studios, BFI and others achieve more sustainable films.

Case studies

The case study organizations have been selected to represent a range of sizes and types and were enabled by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) as part of its ongoing programme of support for standardization.

Read how the British Film Institute (BFI) uses BS 8909 to address sustainability in its role of film exhibitor

Download case study

Ealing Studios tackles increasing the sustainability of motion picture development with BS 8909

Download case study

Embedding sustainability best practice in the work of film distributor Dogwoof

Download case study

Helping to embed sustainable film production with Greenshoot

Download case study


We've prepared a set of notes to help make applying BS 8909 easier, but you'll also find them useful if you'd just like to find out a bit more about sustainable film.

The notes introduce the standard and help put it in context, as well as detailing how the standard was developed.

The notes then go on to give a detailed explaination of the different sections of the standard.

The notes are free, and are a must read for anyone interested in applying BS 8909.

Download the guidance notes 

Next steps

  • If you're ready to start creating more sustainable film,  you can obtain a copy of BS 8909 from the BSI shop. It's available for immediate download.
  • For more help appling the standard, downloaded a copy of the guidance notes in the guidance section of this website.


  • When you feel you've made some progress, third party certification will help confirm and add credibility to any claims you make about the sustainability of your business.
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