Our Commitments

Our Commitments

Complementing our values are our commitments; to the environment, which we strive to protect, to our responsibility as a corporate entity, to keeping our suppliers, partners and employees safe at work and to helping our employees, across all areas, succeed and deliver great work.

Marine plastic pollution is a big challenge facing our global oceans today. More than 8 million tonnes of plastic waste enters the ocean each year and floating plastic has been estimated at 5.25 trillion particles weighing 268,940 tonnes. As a world leading centre in ocean science, technology and business, with a core value of Environmental Responsibility, the National Oceanography Centre is committed to:

  1. Undertaking fundamental research into the fate and impacts of plastics in the ocean
  2. Leading by example in ensuring that our own activities result in minimal release of plastics into the ocean
  3. Supporting education and engagement with the public, government and business on actions to reduce their input of plastics into the ocean
An analysis, by NOC’s scientists, of our unique microplastic sample set will provide the first information on the wide-scale distribution and temporal variability of microplastics in the ocean, and their sedimentation.

Read more about ongoing research »

The NOC is committed to continual environmental improvement, preventing pollution and being an environmentally conscientious organisation.

The NOC currently maintains an Environmental Management Systems (EMS) covering operations at both Southampton and Liverpool sites, certified to ISO 14001. The scope of our certification is as follows:

This policy covers the activities of the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) at its research sites in Liverpool and Southampton. In addition, this policy covers the research and teaching activities of the University of Southampton and tenants at the Southampton site.”

The environmental management of our research vessels is captured by MARPOL requirements and our Ship Energy Efficiency Plans.

Our main significant environmental risks (aspects) are those associated with procurement, business travel and energy use.

Targets for both sites encompass a range of different environmental aspects, from reducing waste generation and energy use to promoting sustainable travel and safe oil storage.

Ways in which we aim to minimise our carbon footprint include:

Energy monitoring

There are over 200 energy meters across Liverpool and Southampton. These meters record and allow analysis of our gas, water and electricity consumption. The monitoring system is used to detect suspect energy/water use and to validate energy savings from our projects.

Solar Thermal Collectors, installed in 2016, help NOC to heat hot water for the laboratory spaces. Solar PV

The NOC has installed a 157kW photo voltaic array in Southampton. The array consists of 594 solar panels. The array generates enough power over the year to meet the electricity demand of our Southampton workshops on which they are situated.

Recycling bagged up and ready for collection

Waste management

Waste recycling regimes have been established at both Southampton and Liverpool. Staff and students are encouraged to follow the waste hierarchy, ‘eliminate, reduce, reuse, recycle’. Waste audits occur in Liverpool and Southampton annually; this provides the NOC with data on what materials are entering the general waste and helps us forward plan

Sea water cooling

The NOC has a unique Sea Water Cooling system in Southampton. In the winter months the dock water is used to indirectly cool the building. The system provides the NOC Southampton with approximately 16 weeks of free cooling a year.

Smarter travel options

The NOC actively encourages staff, students and visitors to the Centre to use public or active transport. Good cycling and walking routes can be found to each site in addition to free cycle parking.

At Southampton, the Uni-Link bus service links the Centre directly to the airport, railway stations and city centre. For information on travelling to the NOC sites visit our Contact Us page.

Thermal image of Southampton computer roomFree air cooling

Server rooms can be found in both Southampton and Liverpool. These house powerful computers and require lots of cooling. Thermal images have been used to ensure cooling is effective therefore reducing energy demand. Thermal containment curtains have been installed in the server rooms in addition to fresh air-cooling systems

Partnership working

The NOC works closely with its delivery partners, University of Liverpool and University of Southampton, to share best practice. The NOC is also involved with travel forums in both cities and the Energy Partnership in Southampton. The NOC is now also working with local schools in Southampton that are registered on the Eco-Schools scheme.


Eco-School visits to the NOC are aimed at junior schools (KS2) within the Hampshire area working on the Keep Britain Tidy ‘Eco-Schools’ scheme.

If you would like further information on any of the items above please contact Environ environ@noc.ac.uk.

Our approach to Corporate Responsibility is about achieving our mission in a way that reflects our values, connects our decisions to ethical, environmental and social concerns and meet the standards our stakeholders, customers and our own people expect of an organisation that aims to be one of the world’s top three oceanographic research institutions.

The National Oceanography Centre is committed to setting the highest standards for responsible practice and these standards underpin our mission:

  • To undertake internationally competitive marine science in an Earth system context and especially with a long term focus – working with others for the effective translation of new and existing knowledge into demonstrably high societal benefit.
  • To manage, develop, coordinate and innovate high quality, large research infrastructure, equipment pools, facilities, databases and other science enabling functions for the benefit of the whole UK science community to deliver excellent science with impact.

The National Oceanography Centre will conduct its business to the highest standards of honesty and integrity. We believe that this is the right thing to do, and it in our interests to protect our great name and deserved reputation for being the UK’s leading institution for sea level science, coastal and deep ocean research and technology development.

We have a legal and voluntary duty to consider the impact of our activities on the environment, on people and on our community. We believe that by adopting a responsible approach we can be credible and trustworthy, manage the social and environmental issues that impact on us, win business and use our resources wisely.

In defining the way we work through our approach to corporate responsibility, we set out the standards that the NOC sets of itself, all NOC employees and third parties acting on our behalf. We expect our values and corporate responsibility policy to be adopted by all employees when they are performing their day-to-day duties or where they are representing the NOC and to take personal responsibility for ensuring that our commitment to working ethically is followed.

Our people

We will:

  • provide a safe working environment and promote and embrace a positive health and safety culture
  • provide opportunities for all and support diversity in the workplace
  • nuture our talent
  • respect human rights and treat everyone with dignity

We will not:

  • discriminate against employees, or any other individuals we meet while conducting our business

Our environment

We will:

  • Focus our work to minimise the impact of activity on the planet and especially the ocean
  • Limit our environmental impact and footprint
  • Reduce our consumption of resources
  • Comply with environmental laws and regulations

Our business:

We will:

  • comply with laws and regulations
  • reject bribery and corruption
  • avoid conflicts of interest
  • recognise human rights and reject modern slavery
  • manage risks
  • have fair contractual practices and be transparent in our operations
  • only disclose confidential information with approval or to satisfy a legal obligation
  • act in a way which protects and promotes NOC’s good reputation at all times
  • conduct research to the highest standards of rigour and integrity

Our community:

We will:

  • Foster a wider understanding of the ocean
  • Engage with local schools and groups
  • Encourage staff to engage in their community
  • Develop our organisation to enable access to technology and the creation of jobs

We also follow the Seven Principles of Public Life

  • Selflessness: Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
  • Integrity: Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.
  • Objectivity: In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
  • Accountability: Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
  • Openness: Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
  • Honesty: Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
  • Leadership: Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

Ensuring that the National Oceanography Centre is a safe place for staff, students, visitors and tenants is an absolute priority. The NOC Health and Safety Policy sets out the management framework we use to achieve that.

Being a safe organisation ultimately requires everyone to make health and safety their priority, so we ask that everyone associated with the NOC familiarises themselves with the content of this policy.

The Policy will be reviewed periodically by the Health and Safety Committee and published by the NOC Safety Advisor on behalf of the Executive Director.

The NOC is committed to adherence to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and aims to prevent slavery and human trafficking in all NOC activities and to ensure that its supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking.

Our commitment to our people is to make the NOC a great place to be, where our people succeed and deliver great work. This is the goal of our People Strategy, which has been designed to support the achievement of the NOC’s purpose, and the vision of being one of the top three oceanographic institutes in the world.
We know that there are many reasons why our people enjoy working for the NOC, including

  • The significance and scale of our mission – ‘to make sense of changing seas, upon which future human wealth and wellbeing depend’
  • Our ambition and reputation, supported with high-quality research facilities, equipment and technology
  • The opportunity to collaborate with experienced, skilled, renowned and widely-networked colleagues
  • Exciting projects and opportunities to make an impact.

In our 2016 Employee Engagement survey 81% said that they were proud to work for the NOC, and we recognise that to make the NOC ‘a great place to be’ also requires support for employees to do their best work. Our commitment is to strive to:

  • Have a strong, vibrant culture, with clear leadership, values and expectations, where people are well managed (as reflected in our Investors in People accreditation) and employees are listened to
  • Develop talent, through providing a variety of opportunities for learning and development, personal growth and career progression
  • Build a positive workplace, with equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusiveness valued; welfare and wellbeing support; flexible working; family friendly policies, and excellent working conditions.
  • Provide regular feedback, recognise and reward achievements fairly within the resources available, and offer a benefits package that include competitive pension and annual leave entitlements.

NOC - Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Statement

Our vision at the National Oceanography Centre is to be the world’s most innovative ocean research institution, making sense of changing seas for the benefit of humanity. We recognise that we cannot successfully do this without a strong and shared commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion from our people which underpin all of NOC’s shared values NOC Values. At NOC we value individual differences and the rich diversity that this brings. We want to ensure that no-one is at a disadvantage or feels excluded because of who they are, what they believe in or the experiences that they bring.

We are committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion across our organisation and in our approach to working with others outside the organisation. As such, we aim to have a diverse workforce with colleagues from all backgrounds. We are committed to equality in the workplace and to unlocking the creative and innovative potential that comes from diversity so all our people feel valued and are able to perform at their best by being able to be themselves at work - so all are included and no one feels left out because of their race (including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin), age, gender identity, religion and beliefs, disability, sexual orientation, social background, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity. We will actively seek to avoid discrimination on the grounds of the above characteristics. NOC does not, and will not, tolerate racism nor any other forms of prejudice and discrimination, that ultimately undermines the dignity and value either of its colleagues or anyone else.

Our commitments extend beyond our duties and requirements under the Equality Act. They are a very cornerstone of who we are and why we exist. Through a dedicated and inclusive culture, strong human empathy, alongside the strength of our policies, procedures, expectations and ways of working, we continue to create a positive and supportive environment for everyone, allowing them in reaching their full potential and in bringing out their very best self.

Dignity at NOC for all

NOC is committed to protecting the dignity of all its staff, its visitors and its partners, both in their work and their interactions with others. This includes providing a working and learning environment that is free from discrimination, bullying, harassment and victimisation. It should be noted that discrimination, bullying, harassment and victimisation do not only take place face to face. They may also occur in written communications, by email, or by phone.

NOC recognises and takes seriously its duty of care to staff, understanding that inappropriate behaviour can result in stress and stress-related illness. All staff, and especially those who have responsibility for other members of staff, share this duty of care. NOC therefore expects all members of its community to treat each other with respect, courtesy and consideration. All staff have the right to expect professional behaviour from others and have a corresponding responsibility to behave professionally towards others.

Conduct in NOC Facilities and Premises

The NOC is a national science facility. In the direct or indirect delivery of its charitable purposes for its beneficiaries, the NOC opens its doors and provides access to its premises and its research ships to a wide range of people who may not be employed by the NOC such as those who use NOC-operated scientific facilities or who are collaborating with NOC staff. The NOC has a policy in place which sets out clear expectations of conduct for all who have access to NOC premises, facilities at its sites in Liverpool and Southampton and on the NOC managed research ships. In addition, it applies to the conduct of those with whom NOC staff are engaging in arranging for the use of NOC premises and facilities. All are expected to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, respecting the dignity of all they work with.

The NOC also has a Code of Conduct Policy which applies to NOC staff and this policy aims to supplement that policy in respect of conduct involving persons who are not employed by NOC working in or with NOC-operated facilities, premises and research ships.