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The city (and the climate crisis) doesn’t stop at 6pm


In November we teamed up with Bristol Nights to run a workshop on climate change for night-time economy businesses. Attendees shared some barriers to taking climate and nature action, as well as some actions taken, and looked ahead to what support would be helpful.

People writing on post it notesBristol has a thriving night-time sector with over 1,100 licenced businesses operating between 6pm and 6am including bars, clubs, music venues, theatres, and restaurants. There are also promoters, festival organisers, food deliverers, plus those operating 24-hour services like hospitals, and taxis, however this workshop was predominately aimed at hospitality businesses. Attendees included representatives from Trinity Centre, The Assemblies, Bristol Student Union, the O2 and Lakota.

Overcoming the challenges of the night

The hospitality sector has been heavily impacted by the pandemic and there is uncertainty about how they will survive through the current recession and cost-of-living crisis. Yet there is still an appetite to be part of the growing community of businesses who are committed to taking positive climate and nature action. Many businesses face barriers to progressing their sustainability goals, some of these are generic such as not owning their building or lacking time and resources, but other challenges are very sector specific.

For licenced businesses operating after 6pm, some of the challenges that are more unique to their sector are around transport and waste. PublicBristol harbourside transport isn’t a reliable option at night or simply isn’t available and is unsuitable if you need to carry bulky or valuable equipment. There are also added concerns around safety for staff and customers, both in terms of harassment if travelling home alone late at night, and intoxication, with risks of accidents and collisions if scooting, cycling or stumbling home drunk. Lakota is overcoming some of these challenges by providing a shared taxi for staff, ensuring their safe journey home whilst minimising the emissions of several taxis taking 1 passenger each.

With regards to waste, there was uncertainty and disillusionment amongst attendees about the recycling process, and whether their rubbish is being responsibly handled by waste contractors. Then there are issues of ‘disposable’ vapes interfering with the waste stream, as well as how to dispose of essential event materials such as cable ties and gaffer tape.

It’s often necessary to use disposable cups for health and safety reasons and something all the venues were looking for was a solution to the cup challenge. This is more complicated than it sounds with certain options requiring specialist recycling or separate waste collection. The Exchange have had success with charging cup deposits, making customers more conscientious with their cup use. Another idea floated was all Bristol venues using the same type of cup to make it easier for waste management as a city.

Building on successes

Attendees also raised some very sector specific solutions such as a ‘green’ rider for artists, ensuring performers have access to what they need in their rider (the food/drink provided for them by the venue as part of their contract), whilst minimising waste and embedding ethical purchasing choices.

Several venues have had success with improving the sustainability of their supply chain through using local suppliers, requiring suppliers to meet certain standards, minimising multiple deliveries by using fewer suppliers, and supporting suppliers with emission measurement and reduction.

Venues and promoters also recognised their power to influence their audience and inspire them to take climate and nature action. There is huge potential within the industry to come up with creative communication and engagement methods.

A joined-up approach

The solutions often involve access to funding, but almost always involve a joined-up approach through collaborative working and sharing knowledge. So we’re continuing to work with Bristol Nights and the night-time sector to explore what support would be useful to enable businesses to take more action on climate, within the context they are operating.

Do you work in the night-time economy sector? We’d love to hear from you about what you’re doing on environmental sustainability and what support you’d like to see, email



Business, News & Information, Arts Heritage and Culture, Climate Action
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