This post comes to you from the Broadway Green Alliance
By Molly McQuilkin
About two years ago, The Phantom of the Opera officially switched to using rechargeable batteries, instead of disposable batteries, in their continued effort to make their enduring show green and sustainable. Paul Verity, the head of the sound department at Phantom, says “The biggest issue we had to overcome was space. As in all Broadway theatres, space is always a premium. That was certainly compounded by the fact that Phantom has been running for twenty-five years. Other than space, we just needed to lay out the routine for storage and recharging.” He continues, “It certainly is more effort. With disposable batteries you open a box and toss them in another box after they are used. Dealing with rechargeables is neither time-consuming nor difficult, but it takes more effort.”
To get the rechargeable program up and running, the sound department had to purchase chargers, the rechargeable batteries (about 144), storage cabinets and some more power strips. The total of these purchases was approximately $1,516. Paul says they have had to replace a couple of chargers, but overall, these investments should last about eighteen months until the batteries need to be replaced. Compare this to the $14,775 the show would’ve spent on 39,936 disposable batteries during this same eighteen-month period – a huge savings in cost and a huge reduction of waste!
Paul is not sure if the rechargeable battery switch will always be completely beneficial for short-running shows: “If it is in a venue that has the same sound team from show to show, then sure. It really become a question of cost. If it does not at least break even, then it becomes a hard sell to the producers.” But with long-running shows, and shows with smart producers and employees that have a passion for recycling, as Paul puts it, “It saves money and reduces waste. A win-win.”
The Broadway Green Alliance was founded in 2008 in collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council. The Broadway Green Alliance (BGA) is an ad hoc committee of The Broadway League and a fiscal program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. Along with Julie’s Bicycle in the UK, the BGA is a founding member of the International Green Theatre Alliance. The BGA has reached tens of thousands of fans through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other media.
At the BGA, we recognize that it is impossible to be 100% “green” while continuing activity and – as there is no litmus test for green activity – we ask instead that our members commit to being greener and doing better each day. As climate change does not result from one large negative action, but rather from the cumulative effect of billions of small actions, progress comes from millions of us doing a bit better each day. To become a member of the Broadway Green Alliance we ask only that you commit to becoming greener, that you name a point person to be our liaison, and that you will tell us about your green-er journey.
The BGA is co-chaired by Susan Sampliner, Company Manager of the Broadway company of WICKED, and Charlie Deull, Executive Vice President at Clark Transfer<. Rebekah Sale is the BGA’s full-time Coordinator.
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