At CWP we love telling stories using real people – they are authentic and emotional, and most of all, we believe in the power of communicating real-world solutions around the world’s greatest problems. If we can demonstrate to others how to better support people and the planet, then we can make a positive impact. 

But character-driven stories can take a lot of time to make, and they are expensive – both for us as a business and at a cost to the planet. While we have strict rules around air travel and closely monitor our footprint (this website is also regularly checked) it’s hard to avoid travel to tell the stories we are passionate about. 

We also know that there are many forms of storytelling. To reach a broad and diverse audience, it’s important to create different stories.  

So, this Earth Day we decided to try something a bit different. What if we could use Generative AI to tell a different story? One that exudes optimism (one of our core values) but also lets us test a new kind of creativity using nothing but a brief, one person, and a computer. 

We were pleasantly surprised by the result. It’s cinematic, emotional, diverse, and eerily global. Locations feel far and wide. However, we also know that using Generative AI can be controversial – so we wanted to take a deeper look into what we created. While we know this technology has the power to displace jobs (and create new ones), we wanted to understand if there is another side to AI. How green is this technology?  

Does the energy it takes to compute each word, image, and sound outweigh other methods? But also, does this new creative form have the ability to help us reach new audiences?   

To find out, we broke down the production, researched the digital footprint, and reflected on the creative result…  

Producing a Generative AI film – how did we get to the end result?

Firstly, like any story we tell, the project began with a creative brief. We kept it simple — create a film for Earth Day that shares our optimism.  

So, we briefed Chat GPT with a simple prompt — “An optimistic monologue for Earth Day about saving our planet from climate crisis”. This was honed with five more prompts, then tweaked with some new words and phrases — a combination of human and Chat GPT support. 

Afterwards came the “production” phase, starting with audio. It consisted of recording a real person reading the script to give it the pace and intonation we wanted. Next, it was uploaded into ElevenLabs where we selected a voice we felt hit the right tone. We looked for some AI music options, but ultimately this proved not as easy as we had hoped (although this space is also developing rapidly). So, we decided on a track from our Artlist library instead. We also added sound effects.  

Next, the visuals – a much more laborious task. Creating the visuals was a two-part process. First, we had to decide what to prompt to match the voiceover, and then decide how we wanted to animate it.  

In Midjourney we created 500+ images that were whittled down to 84 upscaled images. There was some clean-up and tweaking required in Photoshop before we used Runway to see which ones animated most naturally. The 84 images resulted in 124 motion tests as the output would differ depending on the settings. From there, we ended up with 27 final motion shots that were taken into Final Cut Pro to create the edit. 

What was our Digital Footprint?  

We wanted to compare the AI production to a similar film using real people and destinations that would mix shoot footage and stock videos. In a real production, the assumptions are that we would source a voiceover artist to read our script but utilise the same Artlist music and sound effects. 

Comparing the two methods was not easy – a lot of the research and information online around Generative AI energy consumption has wide discrepancies. We found a recent study done by Carnegie Mellon University that MIT Technology Review covered last year. It felt like a safe source. 

According to this article – “Generating 1,000 images with a powerful AI model, such as Stable Diffusion XL, is responsible for roughly as much carbon dioxide as driving the equivalent of 4.1 miles in an average gasoline-powered car. In contrast, the least carbon-intensive text generation model they examined was responsible for as much CO2 as driving 0.0006 miles in a similar vehicle.” 

In looking at what we created, the script and images are equivalent to driving around 2 miles in a gasoline-powered car. It doesn’t include the motion effects in Runway that are energy-consuming (information about this specific area of AI energy consumption is limited — if someone knows, please share the data). A Midjourney image takes around 45 seconds to create, whereas a motion effect in Runway takes around 3 minutes. So, we felt that we needed to increase our mileage to 50 miles — even if this is somewhat of an unknown, it gives a fairer perspective. 

On the flip side, if we were to make this film using people and locations, what would that look like? Being conservative, we could split the film into two halves: UK shot footage and stock video. That’s around 13 images we would have to find locations for and drive to. If we were to assume a 50-mile radius and combine some locations, we would be looking at a minimum of 350 driving miles in that same car. Then, the talent needed to travel, and the filmmaker who shot the stock images would have needed to travel (hopefully not by aeroplane).  

So, on paper, AI is much greener.  

However, this doesn’t consider the wider picture. While it may have been greener to make this film, there is a much bigger impact AI is having on the planet that is hard to research and calculate. For instance, we have to take the water it takes to cool all of the servers into consideration. Then there is the computing power to train AI in general. Nor have we taken into account the behaviours around AI, as millions of people are now generating images and text across the world – a lot of this creative output never being seen by anyone. Essentially, a creative AI wasteland! 

All that said, we remain cautious of this new technology. While we can see the value for projects, we think it should be used strategically and for specific tasks that help improve our storytelling.  

The creative output – does AI have the power to engage and reach new audiences for CWP? 

We will always be passionate about telling the stories of real people. We believe nothing is more powerful than to see and hear what is possible through someone’s learnings and experiences; demonstrating to other individuals and organisations what they can do to be greener and help avert the negative impact of climate change. 

To that effect, the result of this AI film was very different from what we usually create at CWP. While it lacks the authenticity of real people, it is engaging. The film does make us feel emotions. It creates hope and optimism and reminds us that while climate change is impacting us in negative ways, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel if we come together, act wisely, and use technology for good. 

Will this film reach a new audience? Time will tell, but we hope so, and welcome people’s comments, and are eager for it to start a discussion and raise awareness for the future of energy usage in the AI space. We’ll be sure to cover this in an additional note below in a couple of weeks! 

For now, thanks for reading. Watch the film, share it, and have a Happy Earth Day! 

CWP has partnered with CIWM (the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management) to launch a multi-platform digital campaign that shines a spotlight on the pivotal role of the waste and resources management sector in advancing circularity and protecting the world’s environment and resources for future generations.  

CWP and CIWM were proud to present a preview of the series, titled ‘Leading the Way to a World Beyond Waste’, at RWM Exhibition on 13th September, ahead of its official launch on 19th September. 

In the midst of a Decade of Action to accelerate sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest challenges, the series explores progress in innovation, technology, skills, policy and collaboration towards a zero-waste society, whilst raising awareness of the urgency needed for this transition.  

The suite of future-focused content, including interviews, podcasts, short films and a documentary, highlights inspiring organisations and individuals who are seizing the moment to advance sustainable consumption, cut emissions, minimise waste, transform reuse and recycling, and support the rebalance of resources.  

The series features industry experts including Dan Cooke, President of CIWM; Dr Adam Read, Past President of CIWM; Iain Gulland, CEO of Zero Waste Scotland; Dr Andy Rees OBE, Head of Waste Strategy, Welsh Government; Sam Horne, Chair of NAWDO; and Cathy Cook, Chair of LARAC, among others. Mark Shayler, author, environmental expert & innovation lead, leads discussions in a six-part podcast series that takes a deep dive into key topics affecting the industry.  

Sarah Poulter, CEO of CIWM, said: “Our members have been instrumental in advancing the way the UK manages its resources and continue to strive towards our goal of creating lasting change. We’re hugely excited to launch this digital series that celebrates those ‘Leading the Way to a World Beyond Waste’ and we hope it serves as a catalyst for further progress and the continued evolution of our sector.”  

Organisations featured in the series include Augean, Blue Phoenix Group, CRJ Services, CWM Environmental, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Indaver, KEW Technology & Circular Fuels Ltd, Norse Group & Rochford Norse, Nuclear Waste Services,  Recycleye,  Sherbourne Recycling & Machinex, Smart Environmental Support Services, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, GAP Group North East, West Sussex County Council, and Xworks Tech.  

Max Smith, Founder & Managing Director, CWP said: “This is a sector on the cusp of change as it aspires to a world beyond waste. The transformation will take immense effort but there’s a wealth of determination and cutting-edge innovation across the industry. It’s been an incredible journey for us to meet those who are leading the way and we are excited to share their knowledge and inspire others.”  

Discover the series:


About CIWM 

CIWM (the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management) is the leading professional body for the resource and waste management sector representing over 6,000 individuals in the UK, Ireland and overseas. Established in 1898 – and now in its 125th year – CIWM is a non-profit making organisation, dedicated to the promotion of professional competence amongst waste managers. CIWM seeks to raise standards for those working in and with the sector by producing best practice guidance, developing educational and training initiatives, and providing information on key waste-related issues. 

There’s a looming workforce crisis. The UK needs hundreds of thousands of skilled green workers in all sectors and employers are increasingly worried about what they call the ‘war for talent’ for employees with green skills. But how do you become part of this vibrant and growing green skills workforce?  

The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) has launched the Green Careers Hub, a brand-new government backed resource to give insight into the green jobs of the future. Whether you are about to enter the workforce or an experienced professional looking to change career, the Green Careers Hub features a wealth of information for anyone looking to find out more about green skills, green jobs and potential career pathways.

Highlighted in the government’s recent Net Zero Growth Plan, ‘Powering up Britain’, the Green Careers Hub features original content from IEMA and a range of partners and contributors, brought together in a single, easy to use resource. There are tips on job hunting and career advice, case studies, a jobs board and a “jargon buster” to demystify sustainability terminology. Available to view throughout the Hub, a range of videos produced by CWP help to bring to life the stories of inspiring organisations and individuals who are harnessing green skills for a sustainable future. 

The launch comes at a key time, as a report from the government’s net zero watchdog, the Climate Change Committee, urged that net zero guidance should be embedded across the school curriculum.  

Sarah Mukherjee MBE, CEO of IEMA said: “Green skills are needed in all sectors of the economy. A key example is how far short we are on the number of electricians needed to support the government’s ambitions for electric vehicles. We must have a plan in place to tackle the immediate issue of the climate emergency by working towards a robust net zero strategy and emphasis on renewable energy.   

“Without the skills and training in place, we won’t ever bridge this gap, which is why I’m delighted we have launched the Green Careers Hub, to help everyone who’s interested in working in the growing green economy”.  

IEMA’s aim is for anyone to use this hub, whether at school, college, university, in work, looking for a job or career or looking to change to a greener job, for information and inspiration today to become part of tomorrow’s workforce for a cleaner, greener future.  

Visit the Green Careers Hub. 

CWP is partnering with CIWM (the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management) to produce a wide-ranging digital series exploring the resources and waste sector’s role as a vital change agent for the transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient, circular economy. 

This is a pivotal moment for the sector; a time for waste management professionals to accelerate progress in order to protect our environment and resources for future generations. 

In response, the industry is driving change through innovation, collaboration, policy, and new technologies; working with producers and manufacturers to design out waste and nurture green material chains; and inspiring behavioral change required in the journey to a world beyond waste. 

A hand holding a square of cardboard with a recycling logo printed on it.

But urgent progress is still needed to keep pace with the change necessary to meet net zero targets, and more must be done to upskill and recruit the future workforce, foster multidisciplinary working and establish a consistent regulatory framework. 

Through interviews, podcasts, films, articles and a documentary, ‘Leading the Way to a World Beyond Waste’ will shine a light on the waste management community and tell the story of the organisations and professionals powering the sector’s transition. 

The digital series will explore progress in areas such as waste reduction and reuse, EPR, consistent collections, sustainable packaging design, technology, decarbonisation, research and innovation, and skills and training. It will provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and best practice, whilst raising awareness and inspiring the next generation. 

‘Leading the Way to a World Beyond Waste’ will launch in September 2023 at RWM & Letsrecycle Live, at the Birmingham NEC – the UK’s leading event for waste, resource and sustainability professionals. It will then be promoted through an extensive digital marketing and communications campaign, with tailored content for specific audiences including CIWM members, the wider resources and waste management sector, policymakers, educators, young people and the general public. 

Sarah Poulter, CEO of CIWM, said: “At this crucial moment, our sector is doubling down efforts to lead the UK’s transition to a circular economy. We are rightly proud of our community’s achievements to date, and we are committed to uniting, equipping and mobilising our members to drive change for the sustainable management of resources and waste. We are excited for the opportunity to raise awareness of these efforts through our collaboration with CWP, and hope this serves to educate and inspire others as we continue our journey to a world beyond waste.”  

Max Smith, Founder & Managing Director, CWP, said: “A world beyond waste means cleaner oceans, thriving natural ecosystems, and a greener, brighter future for society. There’s a long way to go, but it’s a truly inspiring goal and one that this industry has set firmly in its sights. We are excited to meet those accelerating progress and give them a platform to tell their story in transforming the UK.”  

CWP is a strategic content creator that works in partnership with leading member bodies and associations; engaging professionals on their industries’ contribution to solving the climate and ecological crisis.

Organisations interested in contributing to the series should contact Millie Gallagher, Series Development Lead at CWP to learn more:  

Net Zero: A Digital Journey, a digital series produced by CWP in partnership with BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, features in the Spring 2023 issue of ITNOW – the quarterly BCS member magazine – written and edited by members, read by BCS membership and the wider IT community.

CWP is working in partnership with IEMA (the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment) to produce a video series that showcases and inspires green skills, jobs and careers in the workplace.

Green careers are critical to the net zero transition and creating a sustainable economy, and there is growing demand across all sectors for candidates with green skills. 

CWP is producing a range of video content to support the roll-out of the Green Careers Hub, an online space that supports IEMA’s agenda of a world where all jobs are greener. 

Woman in a high vis jacket and hard hat studies plans with wind turbines spinning in the background

Through the Hub, users can access resources and information on green skills development, green career opportunities, and the new work opportunities presented by our transition to a green economy. Anyone, from any sector, background, and career level, can use the Hub to better understand how they can impact green organisational goals and fulfil their roles more sustainably. 

The Green Careers Hub will be regularly updated with new video content produced by CWP as part of the series, which tells the stories of inspiring organisations and individuals who are harnessing green skills for a sustainable future, and supports users to contribute to the green transition. 

The video series will also be promoted through an ongoing digital marketing and communications campaign. Tailored content will be targeted to specific audiences, including IEMA individual and corporate members, economic segments and industries, educators, young people, and the wider general public, raising awareness that everyone has a role to play. 

Visit the Green Careers Hub 

Content With Purpose