We know dealing with rubbish is a pain, so we’ve written a short guide for location managers and production teams to help you get the best solution for your waste, depending on where you are shooting.





Jo testing Quantum Waste for the first time – success!

If you’re in london, we recommend using Quantum Waste. To our knowledge, they offer the best solution, collecting and processing two streams, both in clear bags: Food Waste and Everything Else. This makes it very simple for everyone on set to separate properly. Full details of their service below – they also charge per bag, giving us an incentive to produce less waste. We visited their depot in Deptford (read more here), and we’ve since posted an update.


->  Hire tabletop water coolers and encourage shoot attendees to bring their own bottles to reduce plastic bottle waste
->  Hire jugs and glasses for agency tables to reduce paper cup and bottle waste
->  Print minimal shoot documents and display them on hired noticeboards instead of poly to reduce paper and poly waste
->  Encourage shoot attendees to bring reusable mugs (e.g. a KeepCup, Frank Green cup etc) to reduce paper cup waste
->  Select caterers who use real crockery, glassware and cutlery or encourage your caterer to do so, to reduce waste from disposable items
->  Recycle Nespresso capsules directly, either via Get Set Hire or by sending them back yourself – click here to get more info
->  Return lighting consumables to the lighting company – croc clips can be reused over and over, as can large gel offcuts and sheets of poly (although please try to do without them in the first place!)
->  Keep purchases to a minimum, and look to hire items instead
->  Rehome any leftover edible food, as well as props, sets, costumes etc to reduce your waste – see the Rehome Your Leftovers page for more details of recommended charities and companies


What to separate: 1. Food waste
2. Everything Else
What happens to the waste: Everything is taken back to the depot in Deptford and this is what happens next:
1. Food waste is either composted or used for biogas production
2. Everything Else: The different recyclables are separated, baled and sold to be made into new products. Anything that cannot be recovered for resale is incinerated in waste to energy facilities so at least some energy is recovered and reused. There are very few things that cannot be recycled in actuality.
Exceptions: Chewing gum should go into ‘Everything Else’, as should napkins, stirrers, and any compostable disposables (plates, cups etc) – Quantum Waste will hand sort these.
Bags to use: Both waste streams go into clear bags (110 litre size are the norm) – get them from Get Set Hire
Signs to use: Click here to view and print our recommended signage
To book: Login to the online booking app with the production company’s details at least 24 hours before your shoot and move the map to find your location. First time? You’ll need to create a company account to go any further (we recommend using a generic info@or reception@ email as the main contact). To book the collection, guesstimate your number of bags (around 10-15 is normal for a 50 person shoot), and add the shoot date. In the additional info box you should include your details as the booker including your email/phone and the preferred pick up time. You could also include a contact such as a location manager or security guard. Lastly you can enter your job name/number for the invoice.

On receiving the request, Quantum Waste will allocate the collection to a driver who will contact you directly (it will also be copied to the email address on the account) to let you know the collection is booked. You can liaise directly with the driver if you need to change the time, or give additional details to help them find the waste. You’ll also be given their number which you can pass to security. Once the waste has been collected, the account email address will receive confirmation of the amount of bags and final total due.

PLEASE NOTE: If you have more than one location (i.e. a Unit Base as well as a location, this will have to be booked in as a separate collection.

Pricing: Costs vary between £15 and £45 per pickup location (can vary depending on how far from the depot you are, on average it’s around £25), plus £1.50 per bag collected. Anything in a black bag will be charged at £2.50 as it is presumed to be contaminated with food waste and therefore takes longer to sort, so make sure you have plenty of clear bags to hand. If you have items that are too big to fit in bags (such as Ram Board floor protection), they can still be collected and Quantum Waste will guesstimate how many bags they will fit into.
Payment: Once your waste has been collected, confirmation will be issued to the account email address along with a link to PayPal. This can be paid with a company card, and a receipt for the wrap will be emailed. NB if you had a location and unit base pickup (or multiple locations) more than one email/payment link will be sent.
Operating Hours: Quantum Waste collect 7 days a week, and almost 24 hours. The last shift finishes at midnight and they start again at 5:30am. They aim to collect within 3 hours of your specified time.
Depot & Range: Based in Deptford, they will collect anywhere within the M25
Waste Transfer Notes: Issued yearly to the account email address, these need to be kept on file for three years.  If for any reason the production company needs the Waste Transfer notes sooner please contact Quantum Waste on info@quantumwaste.com and they will happily oblige.

Check out these images of the baled recycling from Quantum Waste’s depot down in Deptford:


A typical non-Quantum Waste two bin set up

A typical non-Quantum Waste two bin set up

If you’re not in London and can’t find a waste company like Quantum Waste, you should aim to at least separate dry mixed recyclables (DMR: paper, cardboard, plastics and glass) from everything else. Being able to send your food waste for composting would be a bonus: ideally you would provide a three bin set up to allow for separating into these three streams.


It’s always worth checking with the waste company you’re planning to use regarding exactly what they consider ‘recyclable’ within a DMR collection though, and for their thoughts on where ‘compostable’ disposable items like plates and cups should go. Some say these can go in the food waste as they compost down, and others would prefer them in the DMR as they’re often largely made from paper pulp. We’ve put together some generic signs you can use here, and compiled some general rules of thumb in our FAQ, so these are worth a read too.


Don’t forget to first reduce waste as much as possible, and always get hold of your Waste Transfer Note to keep on file.


Just like being on location, you should check with the studio about whether they provide a waste collection or not. Some smaller studios will include this, whereas larger ones may request that you organise your own. If it’s the former, check if you need to separate anything, or whether they have a mixed collection that is separated at the MRF (Materials Recovery Facility) after it’s picked up. Some studios also have a food waste collection for their canteens, and this can be extended to the stages as long as you use the correct bags and bins (which they may be able to provide for you) – particularly useful if you are doing a food shoot.

You can use our pre-written text to ask your studio all of these questions, plus you can use our signs as required.

If you need to organise your own collection, that you can refer back to the location sections above to ensure you get the best waste company based on your location. Your studio may also have recommendations or existing contracts that you can take advantage of. Be aware that if it’s a large build, you should also consider scenery and set salvage companies to take away and recover any recyclable materials like wood and metals, before resorting to waste companies. More information about art department rehoming here.


To get the best results, use the following tips to help you:

->  Ensure you have plenty of bins, bags, clips and the correct signs – we recommend 8 pop up bins which allows for several pairs (or get 9 or 12 if you are separating into DMR, Food and Other)
->  Add details of how shoot attendees should separate their rubbish on the call sheet (along with other green info as suggested here), and copy this info into your pre-shoot email
->  Ensure any separation required starts as early as possible, this means talking to your caterers about what they need to separate and making sure that they have the right bins and bags when they arrive. You may need to get security to manage this, and you can include this in your questions for the caterer
->  Ask facilities drivers, security staff and runners to help monitor the bins, and not to tie up any bags or put any bins out on their own – this encourages people not to separate. You can copy and paste the relevant tips here to help you relay the info


To ensure compliance with hazardous waste law, production companies are responsible for disposing of hazardous waste correctly. Advise should be sought from the studio, or via a company such as Hazgreen if on location, regarding disposal options. The Waste Support website is handy tool for identifying whether an item is hazardous or not. Common types of hazardous waste are:

->  Oils & Fuels (inc cooking oil, diesel, petrol)
->  Fluorescent Bulbs (unless smashed, then general waste)
->  Energy Saving Bulbs (unless smashed, then general waste)
->  Printer toner/cartridges
->  Wood which has been treated or coated in dangerous substances, and those dangerous substances
->  Refrigerant Gases
->  Certain paints, adhesives, solvents, cleaning fluids

As an FYI, the following items are often thought of as hazardous but are actually non-hazardous:

->  Alkaline and lithium batteries
->  Non-flourescent bulbs
->  Any wood substance which hasn’t been treated or coated with dangerous substances, and those non-dangerous substances