Environmental policy - The RSA - RSA

Environmental policy

RSA Environmental & Sustainability policy

1. Purpose of the policy

1.1. This policy sets out the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (the RSA’s) commitments to ensuring that the environmental practises of RSA People and RSA House are actively in line with the RSA’s Design for Life mission to enable people, places, and the planet to flourish in harmony.

1.2. The commitments set out in this policy are focused on ensuring that the RSA’s environmental practises are consistently sustainable and, where possible, aiming to make a regenerative impact.

2. Policy statement

2.1. Scope: This policy applies to all RSA people. This includes all employees, associates, and people employed by our partners.

2.2. The Environmental Policy is to be reviewed annually to ensure new environmental developments are factored into the RSA’s environmental commitments, and to regularly consider new ideas to shift the RSA’s environmental practises from being sustainable to being regenerative.

3. Commitments

The RSA is committed to operating with the Design for Life mission, to enable people, places and the planet to flourish in harmony, front of mind. In particular, the RSA is committed to the following to ensure that a sustainable and, where possible, regenerative approach to environmental practises is being upheld. With this in mind, the RSA is committed to the following set of actions and principles.

3.1. Energy

The RSA will...

  • Undertake an annual audit into energy use at RSA House and the subsequent carbon footprint produced.
  • Produce and implement an action plan on energy reduction at RSA House following the recommendations of the annual energy audit.
  • Report annual energy use at RSA House as part of the annual Impact Report.
  • Procure all energy used at RSA House from sustainable sources as far as practical and possible.
  • Actively work to ensure all equipment and services at RSA House are energy efficient (such as installing LED lightbulbs, light movement sensors, and use-activated water boilers).
  • Actively seek ways to maximise the use of renewable energy sources at RSA House.
  • Actively strive for the RSA to be net zero on carbon emissions by 2030.

3.2. Waste and recycling

The RSA will...

  • Keep waste at RSA House to an absolute minimum by preventing, reusing, recycling or recovering waste where possible.
  • Ensure all waste is sorted, stored and disposed of safely.
  • Ensure that all recyclable waste generated at RSA House is recycled.
  • Promote and encourage accurate waste disposal and recycling across RSA House for both RSA People and visitors.
  • Actively reduce, with the aim to cease, the use of single-use plastics at RSA House.
  • Maximise the use of recyclable, compostable and/or recycled products across RSA House.
  • Reduce the production of non-recyclable resources across RSA House (such as laminated or plastic-based signage).
  • Actively explore ways to limit, as far as is practically possible to not negatively affect business development opportunities, the production of physical marketing and engagement resources (such as business cards) in favour of digital alternatives.
  • Utilise electronic communications where possible to minimise printing and thus the volume of wastepaper and ink.
  • Minimise pollution and prevent where possible including light, noise, solids, liquids and chemical pollution.
  • Ensure all electrical equipment (such as fridges and freezers) is disposed of according to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013.
  • Ensure all lamps and commercial batteries are recycled.
  • Observe our duty of care conscientiously within our waste contracts.

3.3. Water management

The RSA will...

Ensure responsible water management and conservation throughout its operations, which include:

  • Encouraging all RSA People and visitors to RSA House to use water efficiently whilst at RSA House.
  • Where possible, utilise water butts as a non-drinking water source.
  • Ensuring all users are aware of which materials can be disposed of in wastewater.
  • Exploring and supporting, where possible, natural solutions for reducing/reusing surface water.
  • Ensuring all toilets and urinals at RSA House are fitted with waste management systems and water control systems to limit water usage when flushing.
  • Ensuring all drinking water at RSA House is purified and safe to drink.

3.4. Procurement and suppliers

The RSA will…

  • Ensure that procurement of goods and services is weighted appropriately to encourage local, sustainable suppliers.
  • Ensure that timber, or similar products used by the RSA, are from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified sources where practical and possible.
  • Ensure that consumables used at RSA House (such as cleaning products and inks) are non-toxic and sustainably sourced.
  • Ensure that where possible, furniture and furnishing at RSA House are repurposed, donated or recycled.
  • Ensure all refurbishment projects for RSA House have a primary focus on sustainability and that any suppliers used for these projects have environmental policies and procedures that align with the RSA’s.

3.5. Technology

The RSA will...

  • Endeavour to procure IT software and equipment from suppliers that have environmental policies and procedures that align with the RSA’s.
  • Ensure that, where possible, IT equipment is responsibly recycled when no longer useable.
  • Endeavour to bring continuous efficiency to the RSA’s technology estate and processes with the aim to limit the technology estate’s environmental impact.
  • Actively explore ways to evolve the RSA’s technology estate in ways to minimise the technology estate’s carbon footprint.

3.6. Catering and hospitality

In collaboration with our hospitality partner, Company of Cooks, the RSA will...

  • Endeavour to use catering suppliers that are local, and London-based.
  • Endeavour to ensure all catering produce is ethically and sustainably sourced (for example, via partnerships with Union Coffee, Freedom Foods and the Marine Conversation Society, as well as a commitment to using cage-free eggs).
  • Take a waste-not approach to catering, developing partnerships where possible to collaborate on repurposing food waste at RSA House (such as Too Good to Go and the Felix Project).
  • Encourage the consumption and use of plant-based and low-carbon produce, ensuring the visibility and a good selection of these options at the RSA Coffee House and within RSA House catering packages.
  • Encourage sustainability amongst RSA House’s corporate clients by promoting sustainable options within event packages (such as a sustainable wedding package).

3.7. Travel and transport

The RSA will...

Encourage RSA People to be mindful of the environmental impact of travel and modify their behaviour accordingly, in line with the Staff Expenses Policy.

Ensure the negative environmental impact of RSA People’s travel is minimised without negatively affecting the ability of the RSA to deliver its Design for Life mission by encouraging RSA People to:

  • Bundle travel such as car sharing or sharing taxis;
  • Use public transport wherever possible and practical;
  • Plan travel in advance and combine trips to the same geographic area; 
  • consider virtual/hybrid meetings as an alternative to the need to physically travel to the same place, and 
  • be conscious of their environmental footprint when booking international travel, ensuring this only takes place when it is 'business critical' (in line with the guidance in the Staff Expenses Policy), ensuring there is clear purpose of the international trip and that time aboard is maximised to the fullest.
  • Support working practises that limit the amount of pollution-intensive travel required by RSA People such as hybrid working and the cycle-to-work scheme.
  • Report the carbon emissions produced by travel by RSA People on an annual basis as part of the annual Impact Report and actively work to reduce these emissions on an annual basis.
  • Actively explore ways to ensure the shipment and delivery of physical goods produced by the RSA (such as the RSA Journal) is sustainable.

3.8. Regenerative impact

  • The RSA recognises that a key principle within the Design for Life mission is regeneration and having a regenerative impact on society.
  • For the purpose of this policy, the definition of ‘regenerative impact’ is as follows:Tangible progress towards improving the resilience of economic, social and/or natural systems, with no harmful effects on these systems. This moves us on from the 'do no harm' principle at the heart of 'sustainability', to the 'do more good' principle of 'regeneration'.
  • The RSA also recognises that there are unavoidable limitations on the RSA’s ability to make a purely regenerative impact when it comes to the environmental practises at RSA House (such as legal food safety regulations regarding repurposing food waste).
  • Nonetheless, the RSA is committed to actively working, where possible, with the principle of regeneration in mind. This includes:
  • Ensure regular training opportunities and spaces for discussion for RSA People to develop their understanding of regenerative impact and best practise.
  • Ensuring that RSA People and the general public have exposure to the RSA’s regenerative initiatives by displaying and promoting this work around RSA House.
  • Actively exploring options for continuing to strengthen and evolve RSA House’s regenerative impact (such as setting up a Regenerative House staff working group in 2024).

4. Responsibility and controls

  • All RSA People have a discretionary responsibility to act in line with the RSA’s Design for Life mission whilst at work.
  • All RSA People have a discretionary responsibility to act sensibly and mindfully of the environment and to consider their personal environmental footprint whilst at work.

5. Further information

5.1. If you have questions or require further guidance, please contact the Chief Operating Officer.
5.2. For more information on the environmental commitments of Company of Cooks, you can access that here: Company of Cooks – Community.
5.3. You can access the latest Sustainability Report for CH&Co (the parent company of Company of Cooks) here: CH&Co – CSR.

About the RSA

Enabling people, places and the planet to flourish in harmony.