Our sustainability policy

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

For 2021, we have partnered with Anglia Ruskin University, a University with a strong record of incorporating sustainability in every aspect of their structure.

Together, we took a pledge for British Science Festival 2021 to reduce our environmental footprint, amplify our social impact, and deliver the greenest British Science Festival in its history. 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 the first time, 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 provide grants of £500 to community groups/organisations in Chelmsford 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 will have multiple recycling bins across the Anglia Ruskin University campus;
  • We will have multiple water refill stations across the Anglia Ruskin University campus.


Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

  • No single-use plastic cutlery will be available from campus catering points;
  • We will provide vegan food throughout the Festival via our dedicated food stall and encourage visitors to try it;
  • We will use a locally sourced, vegan menu in private hospitality events;
  • We have cut down the printing of collateral (programmes, leaflets, posters etc) by ~ 40,000 items compared to previous years. We will now print less than 5,000 essential pieces of collateral, which are all recyclable and locally sourced to reduce transport emissions;
  • We have radically redesigned our site dressing and branding production:
    • We are eliminating single-use plastic signage by employing additional Festival Assistants to help visitors with wayfinding;
    • We are replacing window vinyls and building dressing with chalk window painting;
    • 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;
    • We are using reclaimed pallet wood for our outdoors furniture across our site;
  • Our biggest event, the immersive experience ‘BODY’ is produced by a sustainability award-winning company, Walk the Plank.


Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

  • We’ve shared our sustainability pledge with all 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 free tea or coffee 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 vegan food stall on campus?
  • If wearing a facemask, opt for a reusable one;
  • Join our sustainability pledge by adding a note with your commitment towards a more sustainable future on our sustainability pledge wall. You’ll be able to find our pledge wall outside the Lord Ashcroft building (MAB) on the Anglia Ruskin University campus.