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Find out how we’re reducing our carbon impact at this time of climate crisis.

An exterior terrace of the National Theatre, with planting in various raised beds.

The climate crisis is the biggest challenge any of us has faced.

Like any business, our operation has an environmental cost: we create work that is inherently temporary; we make use of raw materials; we ask people to travel to a particular location at a particular time.

We are committed to reducing our carbon impact, and have set ourselves ambitious targets to achieve carbon neutrality as an organisation by 2030.

Our Environmental Policy recognises our responsibility to take action, and our belief that theatre can also lead positive change. We are committed to leading by improving our practice, shaping public conversation through storytelling, and galvanizing industry action to combat the climate crisis.

Our commitments:

  • To embed environmental sustainability at the heart of National Theatre’s practice.
  • To work to the standards of the Theatre Green Book.
  • To set year-on-year carbon reduction targets.
  • To use the best tools and practice to help minimise our carbon impacts.
  • To report on our progress annually.
  • To share our experience and learn from others within the wider sector and by working with peer networks.


In May 2021, we started working towards the baseline standard of the Theatre Green Book – a new guideline for making sustainable theatre.

Reusing and recycling are at the heart of this commitment, with 50% of materials needing to have had a previous life, and 65% needing to be repurposed or recycled at the end. We’re calculating the carbon footprint of every new item or material, including deliveries, and reducing the use of harmful chemicals.

This new approach means making sustainable decisions part of the creative choices on our shows. It’s an enormous team effort, which needs every single person working on a show to rethink what they do. Every decision counts.

We aren’t experts yet, but we will be. Everything we learn along the way will help us change the way we make theatre for good.

In 2022-23, we are aiming for 50% of production materials to have had a previous life, and then 65% of materials to go on to a future life.

In action

Discover how we’re embedding best practice from the Theatre Green book in our recent productions.

The cast of Paradise on the stage of the Olivier Theatre
Play Video

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Find out how our teams are working with artists like designer Rae Smith and director Ian Rickson to make shows more sustainably.

The rain effects in the production of The Crucible being tested in the Lyttelton Theatre.
Play Video

The Olivier theatre rains indoors

How we recycled water to create the incredible staging of the Crucible.


We’ve made real progress in making our building much more sustainable – but there’s much more we want to achieve.

Our building now has a B rated Display Energy Certificate – improved from a G a decade ago. We buy renewable electricity, and we’re reducing our energy use every year by refining our equipment and our combined heat and power plant.

In 2022-23, we are aiming to reduce our energy and water carbon emissions by 20%. We worked to reduce our emissions by 15% in both 2020-21 and 2021-22.

A view of the National Theatre and wider South Bank, with a boat on the River Thames in the foreground.


Our water extraction plant reduces our impact on mains water supplies and reduces our carbon impact. We can extract up to 120 cubic-metres of water each day – enough to fully meet our demand for non-drinking water.

The Max Rayne Centre also has a rainwater collection tank which supplies water to all toilets in that wing of the building, including the Dorfman Theatre and the Clore Learning Centre.

The exterior of the National Theatre at night, with the flytowers lit up in red light.


All of the electricity that powers the NT from the national grid is generated by wind and solar. We also generate some of our electricity on site through our combined heat and power plant.

In the last few years we’ve significantly updated our 1970s building to make it more energy efficient. This includes new LED lighting in our auditoriums and foyers and improved monitoring systems which reduce energy use.

An exterior terrace of the National Theatre, with planting.


As part of the NT Future redevelopment project in 2013 we constructed a new production building, the Max Rayne Centre, which is heated and cooled by a ground source heat pump.

The pump uses the ambient, below-ground temperature, transferring heat from the ground in winter and back into the ground in summer, via a network of pipes running through twelve 120m deep boreholes.

A reusable plastic cup full of beer, being held on a sunny day outside the National Theatre.


We currently recycle 67% of our commercial waste. We want to reach 75% by 2022 and reduce non-recyclable waste.

The new reusable cups in our bars saved over 200,000 single-use plastic cups in the first three months. Coffee grounds are collected and turned into eco-heating briquettes. Every 6 months we collect around 5 tonnes of coffee grounds, which makes 4200 briquettes.

A pot of National Theatre honey sitting on top of a beehive on the roof of the National Theatre.


We have several hives and a sedum roof on our workshops, from which bees forage and pollinate for up to 3 miles around the concrete jungle of the South Bank. The honey they produce is available in small quantities in our shop.

The beds on our terraces and outside are planted with flowers and greenery that bees will enjoy.


Our Environmental policy


We are committed to developing a pathway that will see the National Theatre Net Zero by 2030. We believe we can achieve this and continue to make the very best theatre to inspire generations to come.

We will do this by expanding and accelerating our current Environmental Strategy Action Plan with staff, freelancers & partners alongside peer-to-peer networks locally and nationally to increase knowledge & impact.

Delivery will be through the key themes of our Environmental Strategy Action Plan: Operation, Building and Production.


This policy applies to all those who work and visit the NT – staff, freelancers, audiences and visitors.


The Board are responsible for monitoring the NT’s progress towards Net Zero and reviewing this policy on an annual basis.
The Executive are responsible for ensuring the Environmental Strategy Action Plan is set and followed and targets are met.

The Environmental Steering Group are responsible for defining the policy, writing the strategy, implementing the strategy, setting targets and leading the organisation on environmental activity.

Managers, staff and freelancers are responsible for following the Environmental Strategy Action Plan and identifying and implementing changes at a departmental / production / activity level.

Monitoring and reporting:

Our Environmental Policy will be reviewed on an annual basis by our Environmental Steering Group for approval by our Board and updated as necessary. The policy is supported by our Environmental Strategy Action Plan, and implementation and performance will be continuously evaluated through departmental action plans and environmental monitoring and measurement.