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Here at the Royal Air Charitable Trust Enterprises, we recognise that, in our day-to-day operations, our business impacts the environment in many ways.  We are determined to make clear, measurable and positive changes to the way we work, to do the right thing.  We are aware that these changes will not happen overnight and we want to ensure that we make real lasting improvements to the way we work.

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Planning to Improve

We decided to use the International Standard on Event Sustainability Management, ISO 20121, that was designed for the London 2012 Olympics and has been used by Events to manage their sustainability all over the world. The standard makes us consider our issues, understand our impacts, to continually improve and show leadership as well as managing and encouraging our supply chain to work with us. We started to design and implement the management system at the end of 2021, ready for our 2022 event and are delighted that we were audited by British Standards Institution earlier this year and have been certified to the standard.

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Understanding Our Impacts

We need to understand our current environmental impacts to help us to identify the areas in need of change. So, beginning in 2022, we started to measure everything. From the number of visitor cars, energy and water used across the event to waste food and aircraft flying hours. This has given us a solid foundation upon which we can start to base our future policies and action plans - safe in the knowledge that they will be targeted and effective. Working with Greener Festivals, we are using the measurements collected to calculate the carbon footprint of the event. We anticipate that this process of data collection will become more refined every year as we get better at recording the data and our suppliers are more able to assist us.

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Working with Our Partners and Exhibitors

An important part of the show now and in the future is working with our exhibitors and partners to help them to showcase the developments that are being made in sustainable aviation. Some of these are small steps now, but as technology improves, they will become more important and RIAT is set to be the opportunity for industry to showcase these developments to the public.

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Setting Objectives

Each year we will be setting objectives around the areas that we are focusing on improving for that year. For 2023, our objectives are

  • Gain a greater understanding of our customers’ expectations at RIAT now and for the future
  • Eliminate single use plastics from the public catering offer and reduce single use plastics across the event
  • Increase the percentage of the event waste that is sorted and recycled whilst maintaining a zero to landfill commitment
  • Communicate our sustainability plans and aspirations to our stakeholders and engage their support across the showground
  • Reduce RIAT’s reliance on non-renewable energy and engage further with the USAF and MOD to increase sustainable power sources

To read our sustainability policy in full click here

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Changes on Site

On the showground you will have begun to see how we are making positive changes with the support of our sponsors, suppliers, and exhibitors. We have been talking to them about our aspirations for the show and understanding how we can achieve them together.

Our waste contractor, MJ Church, diverts the event waste from landfill by removing large recyclable items before taking the residual to waste for energy where the energy is recovered as electricity. This year we are challenging them to increase the number of recyclable items that are separated out by collecting food waste for anaerobic digestion, collecting dry recyclables from around the showground and having glass, cardboard and other recyclables collected from suppliers and contractors. We will be asking our visitors to help with this by using the correct bins and hope to achieve 20% recycling of our waste.

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As mostly a green field site, we rely heavily on bringing in our own power and water. Our Ground Operations Team are working hard to ensure that we provide these services in the best way we can. They have consolidated our generators across the site, we are using hybrid generators were possible and the remainder all run on 100% Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil fuel. We bring in drinking water for our staff and visitors in bowsers and this year have improved the signage to ensure that everyone can fill their bottles easily.

We have partnered with a new caterer, Togather, who are responsible for all the public catering. Their ethos is to minimise their impact on the environment as much as they can. Across the board, their suppliers use only biodegradable or recyclable packaging and dedicated food waste bins, while their tech allows them to use previous sales data to predict portion requirements as accurately as possible to reduce food waste. We hope our visitors enjoy the new food on offer.

For our own staff and volunteer catering, we work with another supplier, Relish who also minimise food waste, source local, seasonal ingredients and only use recyclable packaging in our canteen.

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Reducing our Footprint and Celebrating Our Handprint

As well as reducing our environmental impacts and lightening our carbon footprint we want to celebrate the positive steps we are taking to enhance the show. Our Techno Zone®2023 will feature over 25 interactive exhibits, bringing to life the very latest and most inspiring technologies. The RAF Experience highlights its continued commitment around sustainability. Finally, the school programmes supported by the RAFCT that are engaging children in STEM programmes across the country highlights our key aspiration to Inspire future generations to engage in sustainable aviation and aerospace.