In August 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed RSPB's shop website and RSPB's main website for its environmental report.
The following document was downloaded: RSPB Ethical and Environmental Procurement Policy. It contained provisions on the following: packaging, waste, energy, timber and wood, paper, PVC and peat-free. Its website also contained details about its activities regarding water, food, recycling and energy at each of its sites.

The document also contained its environmental policy which stated the following "Our main environmental impacts arise from: greenhouse gas emissions from energy use and travel;waste generation; water use; and the use of non-renewable resources. To minimise our impacts on the environment, we have set ourselves the following objectives:
• Advocate sustainability and, through our example and achievements, inspire and encourage others.
• Develop and implement environmental action plans to minimise our impacts, and set appropriate targets to achieve continuous improvement.
• Annually review our environmental performance.
• Raise awareness of environmental issues among staff and encourage them to observe best practice.
• Incorporate environmental responsibilities into job descriptions, staff training and appraisals.
• Select and work with corporate partners and suppliers towards achieving compliance with this policy.
• Promote the value of sustainability to our members and supporters.
• Manage RSPB investments in a manner that supports the principles of socially responsible investing (SRI)."

While RSPB demostrated a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts it did not include any environmental targets. The organisation had a turnover of above £10.2m therefore it was expected to provide a more detailed environmental report. Without the environmental targets it received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for environmental reporting.

Reference:

RSPB Ethical and Environmental Procurement Policy (15 August 2018)

In August 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed RSPB's shops website. It sold leather wallets with an embossed RSPB logo.
It was not considered to form a substantial part of its business however as a slaughterhouse by product it lost half a mark under Ethical Consumer’s Animal Rights category.

It also lost half a mark Pollution and Toxics category for the following reason. Leather, as the hide of a dead animal, naturally decomposes. To prevent this decomposition the leather industry uses a cocktail of harmful chemicals to preserve leather, including trivalent chromium sulphate, sodium sulphide, sodium sulfhydrate, arsenic and cyanide. Tannery effluent also contains large amounts of other pollutants, such as protein, hair, salt, lime sludge and acids. These can all pollute the land, air and water supply, making it a highly polluting industry.

Reference:

RSPB Ethical and Environmental Procurement Policy (15 August 2018)

In August 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed the RSPB online shop and found that it sold a number of RSPB labelled cotton products that were not marked as organic or Fairtrade.

According to the Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in June 2016, Uzbekistan was the fourth largest exporter of cotton in the world, and every year the government forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. Due to the high proportion of cotton likely to have come from Uzbekistan and the prevalence of forced labour in its production, the company lost half a mark in the Workers Rights category.

The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated that cotton covered 2.5% of the world's cultivated land yet used 16% of the world's insecticides, more than any other major crop. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company also lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro-biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 68% of cotton grown globally in 2014. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Genetic Engineering category.

Reference:

RSPB Ethical and Environmental Procurement Policy (15 August 2018)

In August 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed RSPB's Ethical and Environmental Procurement Policy. With regards to timber and wood products sold by the RSPB it stated that it had to be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.

It stated "FSC is the ONLY timber and wood product certification system the RSPB supports. FSC and UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) certified woods are sources of FSC produce."

It went on to state the following policies regarding timber sourcing:
a) New timber and wood products supplied from rare and declining tree species or from threatened habitats will not be used. Illegally logged products will not be used.
b) New timber and wood products must be capable of being re-used and or recycled.
c) Locally grown and converted / manufactured FSC certified timber and wood products will be preferred to those from more distant sources.
d) Imported timber and wood products will only be used when there is no viable UK grown and converted / manufactured alternative.

Ethical Consumer considered RSPB to have a positive policy for its timber sourcing.

Reference:

RSPB Ethical and Environmental Procurement Policy (15 August 2018)