Studio initiative helps the massive production – the biggest budget in TV history – find ways to recycle production-used materials.

A new report from The Guardian on the industry-wide issue of waste uses Amazon’s Rings of Power to comment on sustainability practices. Acknowledging that every Hollywood production has huge waste and debris problems, it’s the epic scale of Lord of the Rings that draws attention since it is the biggest TV production.

According to leaked production memos, “The environmental impact of this industry, and of this show, is enormous… every single person we spoke to is concerned about the environmental impact”. The Rings of Power crew overall cared about the environment – just as fans of JRR Tolkien have for over 80 years, where LOTR and Hobbit include environmental-conscious messaging as part of the core story of Middle-earth.

Fans were elated when Amazon announced Rings of Power would shoot in New Zealand. Not only has the country adopted LOTR as its homeland mythology for tourism, many production people incorporate Tolkien’s environmental concern into their daily life for sustainable island living.

“On the Rings of Power, these massive ice walls and rock wall set pieces – they get smashed into a million pieces. If anyone went and sat outside one of these big productions and saw how many skip bins are going out every day … Truckloads and truckloads and truckloads of polystyrene and timber and all the rest of it, mixed up in plastic … and really just thrown into a hole in the ground.”

Rings of power crew member

Sounds like Season 2 of Rings of Power will have sustainability considered from the start. ““As we figure out what’s going on, we can identify the issues and figure out how things might be done differently moving forward. Next season, we can do things right from the outset,” says an internal memo attained by The Guardian.

Rings of Power water set
All of the water on Rings of Power was recycled to local Fire Department and industrial uses.

The article goes on to say that New Zealand film rebate programs should also tie into sustainable production practices, to get the tax rebates. Amazon had negotiated the largest tax break in NZ country history, but let it forgo when they abruptly moved production for Season 2 to the U.K. Many of the NZ sets were destroyed and trashed due to the corporate-mandated move.

Peter Jackson also shot much of The Hobbit on soundstages using polystyrene trees and forest, using high frame rate 3D cameras and digital sizing between elves and dwarves. Fans didn’t like the “soap opera” look of those films, but the environments were celebrated as much as Rings of Power’s return to Middle-earth.