Skip to main content
Our sustainability policy

Our sustainability policy

Tree listening at the British Science Festival

At the British Science Association, social sustainability and the social legacy of our programmes have always been at the heart of our work.

For 2023, we have partnered with the University of Exeter, a University with a strong record of incorporating sustainability in every aspect of their structure, which is consistently consistently ranked as one of the greenest universities in the UK.

Together, we took a pledge for British Science Festival 2023 to reduce our environmental footprint and amplify our social impact. You can see below the actions we’ve taken and the progress we’re making.

Sustainability remains a journey for us. We won’t always get it right, but we’ll continue to consider our impact in every decision we’re taking and strive for positive progress.

We invite you to join us on this journey. At the bottom of this page, you will find ways to get involved and make your experience at the British Science Festival more positive and impactful.

We have used the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a way of categorising our progress so far.


Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

  • We put equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of all that we do;
  • We support underrepresented female voices in science by committing to no all-male panels in any of our events.


Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy

  • We endeavour to always use the grid for powering our events;
  • There is no use of fossil fuel generators at our events.


Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all

  • We prioritise local suppliers and artists for our production commissions;
  • We do not have volunteers at the Festival – all of our roles are paid a Living Wage Foundation salary or more;
  • We prioritise applicants from the local area for our Festival Assistant positions.


Reduce inequality and support the marginalized

  • All of our events are completely free to attend;
  • We run a community engagement programme with groups/organisations in Exeter that work directly with audiences who are traditionally underrepresented and currently not engaged in science activity;
  • All our venues are wheelchair accessible;
  • We provide detailed accessibility information for our venues on our website;
  • We have programmed a series of events around social sustainability as part of our events programme.


Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

  • We are encouraging all our visitors to use public transport to attend our events, and are providing incentives for it;
  • We provide free bus travel to the University of Exeter Streatham Campus from Exeter city centre and Exeter St David’s train station;
  • We will have multiple recycling bins across University of Exeter Streatham Campus;
  • We will have multiple water refill stations across University of Exeter Streatham Campus and the Exeter city centre venues.


Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

  • We are working together with the University of Exeter catering team for our hospitality catering, who operate under strict sustainability policies and commitments;
  • In order to reduce food waste, we do not provide buffet-style catering for our staff and speakers;
  • We will provide vegan food throughout the Festival and encourage visitors to try it;
  • We have cut down the printing of collateral (programmes, leaflets, posters etc) compared to previous years. We now print collateral only when we run out of stock. The printed material are all recyclable and locally sourced to reduce transport emissions;
  • We have redesigned our site dressing and branding production:
    • We are reducing single-use signage by employing additional Festival Assistants to help visitors with wayfinding;
    • Wherever single-use signage is necessary, we are opting for recyclable materials;
    • In the few cases where eco-friendly production is not possible, we endeavour to have branding that can be reused in future years or stay on site for over a year.


Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

  • We’ve shared our sustainability pledge with our stakeholders (speakers/event organisers, venues, partner organisations and sponsors) and ran consultations to reduce the environmental footprint of their activities at the Festival;
  • We have programmed a series of events around environmental sustainability and climate change as part of our events programme.

How you can get involved

  • Consider using public transport to attend our events. There is plenty of information on our Plan your Visit page, including details on how to claim a food or drink discount by showing us your public transport ticket;
  • Bring along a refillable water bottle rather than buying single-use plastic water bottles on site;
  • Use our recycling bins mindfully rather than opting for the General Waste option;
  • Go for meat- and fish-free options in our restaurants. Why not try a vegan meal from our venues cafés?