We are committed to ensuring Reading Festival is a place to celebrate connection in all its forms: not just to music, arts, and culture, but to the environment and each other. This charter sets out Reading Festival’s commitments to that.
DISABILITY, D/DEAF ACCESS AND NEURO-DIVERSITY
Only 14% of songwriters and composers signed to publishers and fewer than 20% of artists signed to record label rosters are female* and it is in this context that the challenge of achieving equal gender representation needs to be viewed. However, we have been proactive with our Rebalance programme. In 2017 we created the Rebalance programme to offer opportunities not just for artists but for studio engineers and producers. This started as an initial 3-year projection and has now been extended for a further 3 years. The project has provided studio time, mentoring and gig and festival slots to 33 people, many of whom have gone on to sign label deals or work permanently within the industry.
In addition, since 2018 we have committed to increasing the percentage of female identifying stage managers at our festivals, from 11% in 2018 to a total of 32% on average across our events in 2021. This far surpasses the industry average and we are looking to do the same in many more roles across our festivals. In 2021 we also contracted the first all-female stage crew at Download Pilot Festival. We are not passive about the work that needs to be done.
MENTAL HEALTH AND SAFEGUARDING
We have a huge number of agencies that work at Reading Festival to keep everyone safe. Festival Republic and Live Nation have developed a safeguarding policy that outlines our statement of intent towards the well-being and human rights of children, young people and vulnerable adults, and outlines the strategies that we have in place to safeguard customers and staff from abuse, which includes harm and neglect.
Together, as a team, we strive to offer a 24/7 all-inclusive safeguarding system meaning whatever support or treatment is required, it can be provided as quickly as possible within the festival site. We believe that no one should experience abuse of any kind, and that we have a duty of care to protect customers and staff as much as is practicable and proportionate. This is regardless of age, disability, gender, race, domestic situation, religion, belief, or sexual orientation.
Helping us deliver our Safeguarding policy are:Brook – Who offer judgment-free sexual health advice and contraception. They are active in the campsites.
Reading Street Pastors – Active throughout the site, the Pastors provide a friendly face and listening ear for festivalgoers.
Salvation Army – The Salvation Army have volunteered at Reading for decades, providing emotional and practical support for festivalgoers at their popular tea tent.
Samaritans – the volunteer team are expertly trained at listening and providing comfort to those in need.
TLC Welfare - For when that friendly face isn’t quite enough, our welfare team provide a warm and comfortable place to stay for however long someone may need. They work hard towards the right outcome depending on the case. This might be providing professional advice, involving the parent(s) and guardian(s), linking in with our partner agencies or enabling everybody to feel safe and happy once more to enjoy the duration of the festival.
Open Road – Providing our Safeguarding coordinators
Festival Medical Services – Providing medical care and additional safeguarding team support.
Safe Hubs – the hubs are situated in each campsite to provide practical support for campers as well as being able to signpost festivalgoers to other key services.
Welfare and Venue Welfare Services (Waves) – Providing crowd surfing support in the pits to ensure the crowd is as safe as it can be.
The British Red Cross – Staff the safe hubs with their trained staff and volunteers.
In the past we have worked with also worked with Safe Gigs for Women to raise awareness for unwanted attention at gigs and we plan to work with them or similar organisations in the future
As set out in our Green Nation Sustainability Charter, we recognise our responsibility to preserve the live music experience for generations to come and have a tremendous opportunity to inspire climate action at Reading Festival.
We acknowledge the impact that our business has on the environment, are committed both to telling the truth about the scale of the climate and ecological emergency, and to taking urgent action. Our primary impact areas are transport and energy, as well as waste, water, food and beverage, and the effect of the festival on the flora and fauna of the site. Each of the festival’s environmental impact areas have been assessed in the context of their impact on, and the contribution to reaching the relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals.
We employ a dedicated sustainability team who work as an integral part of the festival planning process, developing a sustainability action plan for the festival and ensuring these actions are undertaken on site.
We know that we cannot tackle climate change alone, and as such we support climate positive initiatives in the broader music industry. Reading Festival is part of Vision 2025, contributed to the The Show Must Go On Reports in 2020 and 2015, and has signed up to Music Declares Emergency.
Reading Festival is working towards a target of 50% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. This is in line with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, which we are still committed to despite the national pledges at COP26 being forecast to exceed this level of warming. We will review our progress annually in step with a science-based approach.
We support Reading Borough Council’s Climate Emergency Strategy 2020-2025 and will work in partnership to help reach their goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions and climate change resilience in Reading by 2030.
The energy we use is the main contributor to the on-site GHG emissions at Reading Festival. Our strategy is to first reduce our required usage, and then to replace our energy sources with renewables.
Through our membership of Powerful Thinking we have reduced the power consumption at the festival to a minimum.
We monitor fuel consumption annually, to determine the potential to reduce generator sizes and related fuel volumes.
We require that LED festoon and tower lights are used to reduce energy consumption, and that onsite suppliers plan power distribution efficiently.Replace with Renewable Energy
Our aim is to use 100% renewable energy from either biofuel or mains supply by 2030, and this year we are fuelling Reading with 100% Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), from an 18% share of total fuel in 2014.
The biofuel we use is Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) biodiesel, which emits 90% less carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) when compared to using regular red diesel.
We assess our biofuels provenance, endeavouring to use European sources that are from a second-generation waste product such as used vegetable oil, not palm derived.
Battery storage solutions and solar hybrid generators are utilised at Reading Festival in suitable areas, and we calculate the emissions savings they generate.
We strongly recommend and promote low-carbon travel options to get to Reading Festival.
We partner with national coach provider Big Green Coach, work with carshare company Go Car Share, and provide shuttle buses from Reading Central train station to provide lower-carbon alternatives to single-occupant car travel. All car parking passes at the Festival include a £1 surcharge, which is donated to Trees For Cities to fund tree planting projects which contribute to mitigating the emissions from audience travel.
In 2018 and 2019, we balanced emissions equivalent to 405 tonnes of carbon equivalent with Ecolibrium, donating a third of the solar panel installation costs at Wooburn Primary in High Wycombe via Solar for Schools.
We apply the following waste hierarchy, as set out in the Waste Regulations 2011:
Reuse over single use.
Renewable over finite resources.
Products with the highest recycled content available, including at least 30% where alternatives are not available.Reading Festival has implemented the following measures to reduce single use plastic at the festival:
We provide water refill stations across site, and encourage fans, staff, and artists to use reusable bottles. These are also available for purchase onsite.
No pre bottled water is provided as standard to crew or artists.
All bottled water sold at Reading Festival contains a minimum of 30% recycled content in line with the UK Plastic Pact, supporting the plastic recycling industry.
All soft drinks are served in either a recycled plastic bottle, a paper cup, or a can where permitted.
We operation soft drink post mix outlets and bars are required to decant mixers from multi-serving bottles to reduce the number of bottles.
Plastic cutlery and straws have been banned since 2009, and only EN 13432 certified compostable materials are permitted for food service containers.
Bulk condiment bottles are required to be used instead of single-use sachets.
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE
We aim to achieve at least a 50% recycling rate by 2030, and to go beyond Reading Borough Council’s recycling rate. Reading Festival is zero waste to landfill, as all festival waste is either recycled, composted, or used to generate energy from waste.
Reading has a waste management plan, including the use of a waste management facility adjacent to the site to minimise our carbon emissions from waste transport. We receive annual reports from the facility and have tracked our waste and recycling since 2009.
We work with The Warren and District Residents Association and others to recruit a passionate group of volunteers to help spread the word about our recycling initiatives, including:
Our recycling reward scheme, offering customers prizes for recycling in the campsites.
The three-bin system we implement site-wide, allowing separation of recyclable, non-recyclable, and compostable waste.
Our deposit return scheme on paper cups and water bottles, incentivising recycling in the arena.
The Co-op reverse vending machines, where customers are rewarded with supermarket vouchers, and plastic bottles are recycled into uniforms for Co-op colleagues.
Campsite recycling points and bags distributed to campers, allowing them to collect and dispose of their waste and recycling.
Engagement campaigns including the UK government’s #OneStepGreener pledges, and our Zero Waste Festival Goer initiative to encourage campers to take their tents home.
Collaborations with charities and not-for-profit groups including local scouts, guides, the Salvation Army, Herts for Refugees, New Beginnings Reading and others to repurpose tents and camping equipment that campers do not reuse themselves.
WATER & WASTEWATER
Self-stopping taps are in operation at the Festival to minimise water wastage. In a partnership width Thames Water, all sewage from Reading Festival 2019 was used to make energy from waste.
We encourage using vendors local to the festival, and ensure a number of dedicated vegetarian and vegan options are available to festivalgoers.
We are committed to develop awareness of the carbon footprint of food, and in 2021 worked with the University of Gloucestershire to deliver a food carbon rating system to inform customer choices. In 2022 we are working with London School of Economics to develop food carbon calculator to inform customer choices.
We are reducing the carbon footprint of food consumed by our crew by not serving high-carbon food, and having at least one meat-free day per week in crew catering.We are committed to collecting and redistributing any surplus food from the festival, and have worked with the Reading Central Salvation Army and the South West Food Collective to help us do this.
ENGAGEMENT AND LOCAL IMPACTS
Pledges of positive action for the environment taken by festivalgoers, artists and staff as part of our Zero Waste Festival Goer and #OneStepGreener campaigns,
Collecting over 10% of Oxfam’s target signatures for their 2021 UK Climate Justice campaign at Reading Festival alone.
Empowering our staff and artists to play their part in improving the sustainability of the festival, by educating them on the initiatives we put in place across site.
LOCAL IMPACTS AND BIODIVERSITY
We carried out an Economic Impact Assessment in 2021 to understand the potential impact of the festival on the local Reading economy, and carry out ecological surveys to ensure that Reading Festival avoids negatively impacting the wildlife that live on the site all year round
We have supported a number of local projects including the Mapledurham Pavilion, the Bell Tower Community Association, the Sea Scouts Group, Reading Museum, and the Warren and District Residents Association. We are part of local development consultation teams such as the Rivermead Academy development and the Rivermead Leisure Centre.
Our annual donation to Trees For Cities is directed to funding a project near to Reading, giving back to the local area that our festival calls home each year.