The West End company of WICKED have been using rechargeable batteries since June 2011, inspired by the Broadway company of the same show who, with the help of the Broadway Green Alliance, have been using rechargeables since 2008 and achieving cost savings of over £2,600 a year.
WICKED and the Broadway Green Alliance
Since the launch of BGA in 2008, many Broadway theatres have switched from using disposable batteries to using rechargeables, including The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Mamma Mia, and Billy Elliot. The New York company of WICKED was one of the first to switch. Until October 2008, WICKED had been using and disposing 38 AA-sized alkaline batteries per show for their wireless microphones. At eight shows per week, 52 weeks per year, that totals 15,808 batteries per year or 79,040 batteries in five years, and about 2.3 tonnes of electronic waste over the same five year period.
By switching to nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries, they have reduced their consumption to 76 batteries per year, the equivalent of two complete sets which they use alternatetely to allow sufficient time for recharging between shows. These rechargeable batteries are used for a year before being responsibly recycled. The cost savings works out to over $4,300 (£2,600) per year after the five rechargers are paid for at $67 each.
Susan Sampliner, Company Manager of the Broadway company of WICKED and Co-chair of the Broadway Green Alliance, shares her experience: "With the help of our sound department, WICKED led the way for the Broadway community to keep batteries out of landfill. By using rechargeable sleds, and devising a rotation method as part of preshow maintenance, we were able to eliminate single-usage of AA-sized batteries for our wireless microphones. And when sound engineers around town were skeptical that rechargeable batteries could meet the needs of a Broadway show, and reliably hold an adequate charge, our sound engineers were able to show them empirical evidence that not only could they do the job, but could save their employers a considerable amount of money as a result. We are proud that we were able to set the example three years ago, and we continue to assist shows in NY and around the world in making the same transition."
WICKED at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, London
Following the success of WICKED’s environmental initiatives on Broadway, the London production began using a rechargeable battery system supplied by Autograph in June 2011, after trialing the technology for several weeks.
WICKED uses 32 battery cells per performance and the show runs twice a day for matinee and evening performances, so they have two full sets of batteries (64 cells in total) that are used alternately to allow time to fully recharge. A show with only one performance a day could recharge their batteries overnight and use just one set.
To eliminate confusion, each set of battery cells is colour coded with a sticker - one red set and one yellow set - and each cell is marked with the date it went into operation to keep track of roughly how many charge cycles it has undergone. Cell age is an important factor in the performance of rechargeable batteries as most manufactures will recommend that cells be renewed after a particular number of charge cycles and/or length of time.
Until the end of August 2011, WICKED saved over 2,560 batteries by using rechargeables - financial savings of £500.00. The rechargeable system they are using will have paid for itself after 15 weeks of use (around mid-September 2011).
Join the Julie's Bicycle Better Batteries Campaign
Follow WICKED's footsteps and join our campaign to promote rechargeable and recyclable batteries in theatres and venues across the UK.