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

Reducing plastics

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.

paper straws and sustainable stirrers

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 23,000 cocktails we serve in our Rooftop Restaurant every year needs a stirrer for mixing, which used to be made from black plastic but are now stainless steel. These are re-used, rather than thrown away after just one drink.

Cups and bottles

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. 

A red cocktail in a tumbler and an orange cocktail in a tall glass, with metal stirrers and straws.
Our drinks now come with paper straws and metal stirrers.
Photo by Elin Englund © RSC Browse and license our images

Waste recycling

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.

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 re-used 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.

Our waste contractor

Coventry-based Tom White Waste (TWW) has taken over our recycling and general waste contract due to their commitment to help us improve our environmental performance.

It’s really important that as an organisation we recognise the climate emergency and work hard to embed environmental sustainability into our operations, creative work and business practice, and we know TWW will help us achieve this.

TWW will also work with us to look at how we get rid of and minimise our waste, achieve zero waste to landfill and improve our reuse and recycling opportunities. 

A hand opens the lid of an orange recycling bin.
None of our rubbish goes to landfill, either being recycled or used to generate energy.
Photo by Emily Magdij © RSC Browse and license our images

Electric vehicles

We now operate three electric vans and run an electric charge point that can be used by our visitors.

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.

Visitors who want to use our electric charge point can park at the back of The Other Place, then pay £1 at the bar in Susie’s to charge their vehicle. 

One of our fleet of electric vans.
One of our fleet of electric vans.
Photo by Emily Magdij © RSC Browse and license our images

Solar power

Whenever we can, we look for new ways to make our theatres and our supporting activities greener. In January 2016, we installed solar panels at The Other Place when we re-developed the building. The panels convert the energy in sunlight to electricity, which we use to power The Other Place.

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.


A bed of solar panels overlooking the theatre
Our solar panels at The Other Place.
Photo by Jenny Pulman © RSC Browse and license our images

Energy efficient lighting

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.

Rechargeable batteries

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.

Our Sound and Front of House teams now use more rechargeable batteries than ever before.
Photo by Jo Bowker © RSC Browse and license our images

Costume Workshop redevelopment

Our new Costume Workshop 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. 

The building incorporates several features to reduce its environmental impact, such as solar shading and high performance building fabric with air tight construction techniques. It will also use 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%.


For more information on how we undertake to minimise our environmental impact and to work in a more sustainable way, please read our full environmental policy.