Environmental responsibility

Find out what we’re doing to reduce our environmental impact and improve sustainability, both on and off stage.

Every year (since 2012), we measure and report our carbon emissions, covering energy and water consumption, waste and travel by staff. Our monitoring is improving all the time, and we now capture more data than ever before, which can be used to make further environmental improvements.

Based on the data we have collected from 2012 to 2019, we have:

  • Reduced our overall carbon footprint by 43% 
  • Reduced our electricity consumption (kWh) by 17%
  • Reduced our gas consumption (kWh) by 33%

You can find out more about our environmental work in different areas below. You can also read our full environmental policy to see how we undertake to minimise our environmental impact and to work in a more sustainable way.

Theatre Green Book


The Green Book 
is a theatre initiative which sets standards and provides guidance for making productions sustainably, making theatre buildings sustainable, and improving operations like catering and front of house. 

We helped and continue to assist in the development of the Green Book series and are committed to implementing the standards across the RSC. 

Our production teams are working hard to seek ways to make our shows more environmentally sustainable; to use less, reuse more and source materials sustainably. Examples of how we are working to these standards include: 

  • Introducing modular design and storage to increase set and scenery reuse for later productions - the ornate metal gates used for The Magician’s Elephant are being adapted for use in Richard III, while the floor from The Winter's Tale will form part of the set for All's Well That Ends Well. 
  • Retaining stage props in the Prop Store after a show has ended, where they can be reused in future productions or hired out.
  • Committing to using sustainably sourced materials with low or negative carbon footprints wherever possible, and working with suppliers to improve the sustainability of our supply chain.
  • Reducing the use of harmful materials by avoiding polystyrene, moving to water based paints and recycled paints and not purchasing any materials from conflict zones.

Energy efficiency

A person being handed a headset.

We have made changes to our lighting and battery usage to make both more energy efficient.


We are upgrading the lighting in the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres. Over four years we are replacing all inefficient luminaires with high efficiency LEDs. The central lighting control system will be upgraded so more lights can be switched off when they're not being used.

We also replaced all old linear fluorescent lighting in the Clore Learning Centre with high efficiency LEDs incorporating local PIR control, so lights are switched off automatically when nobody is in the room.


After estimating that our Sound Department alone could use up to 4,000 standard AA batteries per year, we successfully trialled using rechargeable alternatives in their radio mics. After each use on stage, the batteries are fully recharged ahead of their next use, with each battery guaranteed 500 charges. This means that just one rechargeable battery can replace 500 standard batteries.

Our Front of House team now use these batteries in their torches, and the IT department for their electronic scanners and other battery-powered pieces of equipment.

As all batteries can be recycled, whether single use or rechargeable, we also collect used batteries for recycling off-site.


An RSC-branded electric vehicle.


We are continually looking at ways to reduce the impact of our travel and logistics.  All staff are encouraged to travel via public transport, cycle or walk to work or meetings and electric vehicles have been purchased for our maintenance teams to get around. Bicycle storage is available onsite.

To cut down on transport and deliveries to the RSC Shop, we place bulk orders for items.

We now operate three electric vans.

We introduced our first electric van to our fleet in 2016, to help our catering team move items across our sites. As our other vehicles come to the end of their life we are looking at replacing those that are used purely for short journeys with fully electric vehicles.

waste recycling

A person putting rubbish into the bin. 

All of the waste that comes from the bins in our restaurants and theatres is either recycled or turned into energy.

None of the rubbish generated by our day-to-day activities goes to landfill, and waste accounts for less than 1% of our carbon footprint. However, it is estimated that we produce around 500 tonnes of waste a year and recognise the importance of reducing this. For the first time, in 2021 we started capturing real waste weight data for all our sites. This will enable us to monitor and better manage our waste production and disposal. 

We separate out most of our recycling at source, so we can be confident that anything we can recycle, we do recycle. Any non-food waste that can’t be reused or recycled is used to generate electricity at a nearby Energy from Waste plant, which helps to power the local area.

All our food waste is either converted into energy and used locally or turned into nutrient-rich fertiliser by a nearby facility. This fertiliser is used in local gardening and agriculture. Garden waste is composted onsite.

We use Vegware's plant-based compostable food service packaging for items like cups and wooden cutlery, and our cooking oil is sent to be used to create high quality biofuels for transport.

We used packaging and boxes from stock coming into the RSC Shop in the packaging and shipping for online orders.

We also donate leftover costume fabrics and make some of our costumes available for hire, so that the pieces get a second life after their time on stage.

We are always looking for new ways to reuse or recycle materials; for example, green waste from our gardens is composted onsite and timber from our scenic workshop is reused or recycled by The Wood Shack.


We have been working with local community group Rubbish Friends to support our sustainable production of The Tempest, through collecting local litter for use in the making of set, props, and costumes. Rubbish Friends volunteers organise regular litter picks to keep Stratford-upon-Avon a pleasant and tidy place to live and work. 

Through this partnership, a map of all the recycling points in Stratford-upon-Avon was created:

Renewable energy

A solar array in Stratford-upon-Avon. 

Whenever we can, we look for new ways to power our buildings in a more sustainable way.

We have purchased electricity through a green energy tariff for our main sites since 2014 and in 2021, moved to our electricity supplies for all of our sites to suppliers who only supply 100% renewable energy (from solar, wind and biomass). The gas supply for our main sites is carbon offset by the energy supplier.

Solar panels at The Other Place convert the energy in sunlight to electricity, which we use to power the building. Since the solar panels have been in operation, the system has generated 147,460 kWh (kilowatt-hours) reducing our carbon emissions by 41.8 tonnes of CO2. That’s the equivalent of powering 37 average-sized houses for a year or making 5.75 million cups of tea. Any extra electricity generated by our panels is fed straight back to the National Grid, so it can be used elsewhere. No power generated by our panels is wasted.

We also installed solar panels as part of the 2020 Costume Workshop redevelopment. The power generated is used by the workshop and also feeds into the main theatre building. 

The Costume Workshop building has been designed in line with BREEAM 2014, New Construction, which is used to assess the environmental life cycle impacts of new non-domestic buildings at the design and construction stages. It incorporates several features to reduce its environmental impact, such as solar shading and high-performance building fabric with airtight construction techniques. It uses renewable technology, with photovoltaic panels to decrease the amount of electricity used in the building, particularly during the summer months. The new development should reduce our predicted carbon dioxide emissions by 26.2%.

Reducing plastic use

A pile of recyclable bottles.

Single-use plastics and their pollution of our seas is a huge problem. 

Up to 12m tonnes of plastic finds its way into our oceans every year, including over 70m plastic straws. We are committed to reducing the amount we use.

For the RSC Shop, we no longer purchase plastic items but instead focus on products that are made from re-useable materials like wood, paper and metal. All RSC greeting cards, A4 prints and pencils are stocked without plastic wrapping and don’t arrive from the supplier in plastic.


Plastic straws can take more than 200 years to break down and are one of the top 10 items found in beach clean-ups. We serve over 165,000 cold drinks every year in our bars, cafes and restaurant, and we stopped using plastic straws in November 2017, replacing them with paper.

Each of the cocktails we serve in our Rooftop Restaurant needs a stirrer for mixing, which used to be made from black plastic but are now stainless steel. These are reused rather than thrown away after just one drink.


To serve our visitors cold drinks and tap water, we order over 300,000 cups every year. We've switched to cups made from plant-based material. These are light, strong and perfect for cold drinks.

Our cafes sell over 15 different types of bottled soft drinks. We streamlined our range, replacing plastic bottles with glass, and became plastic bottle free in our bars and restaurants in summer 2018. We also provide free water at all our food and drink outlets. 

We sell reusable cups and welcome visitors bringing their reusable cups to our bars and cafes. If you buy a reusable cup from us you get a free hot drink. If you bring a reusable cup to one of our cafes and bars, there's a 20p discount on your hot drink.

We have also signed up to the Refill campaign, so people can refill their bottles at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.