by Elizah Leigh
Categories: Film/TV.


Just how many people have cozied up in the movie theater to take in James Cameron’s 3D eco-spectacular flick, Avatar, since its mid-December 2009 premier? Based on current lifetime domestic gross figures totaling $601,142,000, it’s probably safe to say that everyone and their uncle has seen it by now.

Those of you who lean toward all things green have probably been scratching your heads for a while now, wondering precisely what happens to the rather sturdy plastic glasses that are collected once the final credits roll and it’s a reasonable concern given the fact that approximately 935,834 pairs are issued daily in just Real-D theaters alone.

RealD officials state that all reclaimed glasses dropped into their cardboard recycling bins or mailed back by eco-conscious consumers to their headquarters (at RealD 100 North Crescent Drive, Suite 120 Beverly Hills, CA 90210) are sanitized – i.e. washed up to 500 times — tucked into new plastic pouches and reused in theatres across the world. It is also interesting to note that glasses that are worse for the wear end up being melted down and converted into new consumer plastic items.

That information is a huge relief considering USA Today’s calculations that the estimated 42.1 million pairs of glasses that have been issued thus far would span more than 3,987 miles if they were lined up end-to-end from Los Angeles to Greenland’s Angmagssalik. Since the 3D trend is likely to become a bona fide film going institute now that Avatar has surpassed all wildest expectations, it is encouraging that 3D glass manufacturers are taking their eco-role seriously.

Of course, the most ideal scenario would be for all 3D movie attendees to reuse their glasses for all future shows and for theaters to reward eco-responsible patrons with a $2 – $3 discount off the sizable admission price. By making the consumer personally responsible, our environment could enjoy a breather since resources and shipping miles would be saved, plus the manufacturer would earn serious eco-cred and a great deal of money in the process.

Via Tonic

  • James Johnson

    This is all really interesting that they seem you to want to return them in the US. At cinemas in Australia, you’re told to keep them and re-use them as then you don’t need to re-purchase them and it is better for the environment.

    You can see part of that happening here:

    • Steve

      Great point! One problem with the ecorazzi article is that there are no statistics on the percentage of people who actually “recycle” their 3-D glasses in the US and countries like Australia. I live in the ‘green’ city of Eugene in the “Blue State” of Oregon and even here there are are always a few people who laugh audibly when the recycling promo for 3-D glasses plays before films like Avatar. Theaters charge an additional $3-5 for each 3-D ticket. Even if save your glasses and bring them back to the theater you have to pay the fee. Even people I know personally say, “well if they’re going to charge me extra I’m taking the glasses home” where they inevitably get thrown away.
      I’m not convinced that ‘greening’ 3-D is working here in the States.

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