ETC TGB: Embedding Sustainable Policies Across Your Organisation

De Toneelmakerij

Compared to the other theatres that took part in the ETC Theatre Green Book (ETC TGB) Focus Group – mostly large, national theatres - we are quite small. We’re a touring theatre company, based in Amsterdam. And after a year with the ETC TGB we’re still at the beginning of this journey.

But we can say the ETC TGB has been very useful in giving us structure to address sustainability in a broader way for our company. All our staff, much like everybody reading this, cares about the environment. But it’s a different process to embed sustainable thinking across your whole organisation, and make sure that sustainability is part of your artistic practice and decisions.

We’ve taken the first steps by committing to the Preliminary commitments.

These are:

  • COMMIT to reducing your environmental impact and starting the transition to net zero.
  • Establish a GREEN COMMITTEE including the sustainability lead, a member of the senior leadership team, and a lead for each area - Productions, Operations and Buildings – and key staff members.
  • Agree an ACTION PLAN setting out the steps you need to reach the next Green Book stage, and a timescale to achieve it.

One of the most important elements for us was to form a green committee. This has moved away the responsibility for becoming sustainable from one person to the whole company. We are also making plans about measuring data, and how we will communicate everything to partners and audience and staff. For us, the ETC Theatre Green Book is mostly a way to get started and create awareness.


Our office is located in a historic building, on one of the Amsterdam canals. We are not the owners but rent the building, and since it is a historic building it’s quite difficult to make changes. But in the areas we can influence decisions, we do so: we change to LED lights as much as we can, and we try to be very conscious about using heaters for example. Also, since we are a touring company and perform 90% of our work in other buildings, we don’t have control over the venues we work in.


As said, we are a small organization, and we are still developing the policy around sustainability. We just delivered the 4-year plan for our subsidies, which will start in January 2025, so for us this will be the actual start of a new way of producing: producing in a sustainable way. We are certainly committed to making the change.


Since last year, we have made 2 productions using the principles of the ETC TGB. These are ‘Science Fiction’, a classroom performance, and ‘Rijnreisje’, a performance that was touring in theatres in the Netherlands. For both productions, we wanted to analyse where we stand on sustainability and learn from the ETC TGB.

Overall, ‘Science Fiction’ was a very successful production in terms ofc sustainability. Before we started the rehearsal period for this project, the artistic team agreed that we would make sustainable choices. So for example when we ‘needed’ to order different costumes, instead of ordering them online from a same-day-delivery fast fashion store, instead not to do so, and instead use existing costumes form our storage. Some other green examples:

  • We toured with an electric van
  • All the food we consumed was vegan, and locally produced as much as
  • The costumes were almost 80% reused and recycled
  • The props and scenery were almost all second-hand and made from
    existing materials
  • The actors and the artistic team choose to only travel by bike and train
    to rehearsals

Because we agreed ourselves in the beginning that we would be led by sustainable choices, we could look back on this promise and ask ourselves if we were practicing what we were preaching… It was very helpful and inspiring to work consciously with ETC TGB in mind. We filled out the production calculator, and the results for ‘Science Fiction’ were: source 86% reused/recycled, destination 98% reused/recycled. We can say this was the greenest production we ever made – an ADVANCED production, according to the ETC TGB classifications!

Next up was ‘Rijnreisje’, a production that toured in small/medium venues. For this production it was a bit more challenging to produce it sustainably. The materials for the set and costumes that we chose were quite sustainable. For example, the set & scenery was fully made of cardboard, and we chose the most sustainable cardboard possible. But the problem, we learned afterwards, was that it was not re-usable... The production calculator showed us the following results: source 71% reused/recycled, destination 54% reused/recycled.

In general, I can say we are (slowly) shifting to a new – sustainable – way of producing, and we still need to learn a lot, but progress is being made!

By Sanne Liebregts, Producer at De Toneelmakerij/The Netherlands

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