Environmental sustainability

The RNLI has committed to eliminating or reducing our negative impacts on the environment and to becoming a low-carbon, zero-waste-to-landfill and climate-resilient organisation in the future. 

A white lifeguard with highlighted light brown hair in a top bun looks out the the frame through binoculars. They are wearing a yellow RNLI lifeguard polo shirt and the setting is a sandy beach with turquoise water and grass-covered cliffs in the background

Our Environmental Policy will drive us to continue to achieve environmental improvements and savings across the organisation as we work toward our sustainability vision.

To help focus our environmental action we’ve set four specific environmental ambitions. We’re also working on climate change adaptation plans.

An infographic that reads: Overarching Environmental Ambition. 'To eliminate or reduce our negative environmental impacts'. Specific Environmental ambitions: 2020, from now on we will always consider sustainability in what we do; 2024, zero avoidable single-use plastics; 2030, zero waste to landfill; 2040, zero carbon from road transport; 2050, zero carbon (Scope 1 and 2).

By 2024: Zero avoidable* single-use plastics 

*'Avoidable' means where there’s an acceptable, available, and affordable alternative.

This means that we need to identify where we are using, selling or sharing single-use plastics. Wherever we can, we need to change to a more environmentally and socially acceptable alternative. A few single-use plastics will be unavoidable – for example, those around medical items that are required to be sterile – but many can be avoided or replaced.  

By 2030: Zero waste to landfill 

This means that we need to understand the types and volumes of wastes we produce and try to eliminate, reduce, reuse, recycle or recover something back, before considering disposal to landfill. 

By 2030, our ambition is to have found and implemented an alternative to landfill for all our own wastes.

By 2040: Zero carbon from road transport

This means that all our leased fleet and logistics vehicles will no longer be powered by fossil fuels and will, when in use, create zero carbon emissions.

By 2050: Zero carbon, Scope 1 and Scope 2 

Scope 1 are direct emissions from burning gas and fuel. Scope 2 are indirect emissions from use of electricity.

This means that to mitigate our impacts on climate change, our use of energy and fuel which is currently electricity, gas and diesel or unleaded petrol will be reduced through efficiency measures and supplied through renewable or zero carbon sources. The RNLI will not use core funds to buy carbon offsets to achieve this.

Climate change adaptation

It is evident that climate change impacts are happening right now across the world and records are being broken every year. We’re increasingly experiencing hotter drier summers and drought, warmer wetter winters and flooding, ocean acidification, coastal erosion, more extreme weather events – and sea levels are predicted to rise. These all present real risks and challenges to our continued ability to safely save lives at sea, to the communities we serve and that our people live in and to the suppliers and partners we rely on.  Over the next few years, to enable us to become more resilient and adapt to these changes, we’ll be working to develop our climate change adaptation plans. 

A scene from the inside of the RNLI’s All-weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole, Dorset. This is where all-weather lifeboats are designed, built, repaired and maintained. The scene shows all-weather lifeboats within the vast building, at various stages of the build process.
Energy efficiency
Greenhouse Gas emissions from energy use – and their consequent impact on climate change – is an important issue for all of us.
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Exmouth Lifeboat Station is one of a growing number of stations fitted with a ground source heat pump
Renewable technologies
We’re using renewable energy sources from the sun, wind, ground and water to reduce our carbon footprint and make financial savings.
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Mersey class relief lifeboat, Lifetime Care 12-11, being transported by road to Leverburgh Lifeboat Station to ensure continuous rescue cover
Fuel efficiency
We’re working to improve our fuel efficiency and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicles, lifeboats and rescue watercraft.
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Our 235 Made for life range at RNLI Shop is made from lifejackets worn by our very own lifesavers
Eliminating waste
We follow the waste hierarchy - to eliminate, reduce, reuse, recycle or recover waste before considering disposal.
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Porthdinllaen Lifeboat Station on the Llyn Peninsula is an area of outstanding beauty (AONB)
Protecting habitats
We respect and adhere to conservation designations to help protect the ecosystems, habitats, flora and fauna around us on land and in water.
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Leverburgh RNLI’s Mersey class lifeboat, The Royal Thames 12-36, moored at the station
Our Environmental Policy
Our Environmental Policy sets out our environmental objectives as we work toward our sustainability vision.
Our Environmental Policy
A white lifeboat crew member with brown hair pulled back off their face. They’re looking straight to camera and wearing full lifeboat crew kit – including the new Helly Hansen crew kit, and red lifejacket. Under their arm is a white crew helmet.
Sustainable procurement
The RNLI uses a wide range of materials, products and equipment and we have a role to play in ensuring that any potential negative social and environmental impacts of our procurement choices – and those of our suppliers – are eliminated or reduced, where we can help to influence it. 
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The watercolour design for our show garden, with an enticing paving leading you through a luscious flowering herbaceous borders towards statement trees including Chinese elm and Scots pine.
Sustainability at our Chelsea garden
We’re following sustainability principles for our RNLI Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show 2022, from the garden design, through construction, to what happens to the plants and the materials once the show is over.
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