Are UK businesses investing in sustainability?

Energy & Low Carbon Industry | Surveys

New research amongst UK SMEs reveals that nine out of ten (90%) businesses believe incorporating sustainable and environmentally friendly processes is important. But 52% don’t feel enough is being done to link national government support with local government implementation of green initiatives across the UK.

Collaborate UK 2018, CitySprint’s sixth annual survey of over 1,000 SME decision makers found that while businesses believe in the importance of sustainability, over half (53%) haven’t invested in it at all yet. The top reason SMEs want to be more sustainable is to make the world a better place regardless of any increased business cost or impact (36), and a third of those who don’t have sustainability initiatives plan to invest in them over the next 12 months.

Despite the good intentions of small businesses there are clear barriers in the way. Half (50%) think the government needs to do more to deliver ideas on how companies can become more sustainable and reduce emissions. When it comes to cost, half think there isn’t enough funding for green projects, and 51% believe there isn’t enough information available about how companies can access or apply for what funding is available.

Patrick Gallagher, CitySprint Group CEO, commented on the findings: “It’s incredibly heartening to know that small businesses understand the importance of sustainable and environmentally processes, and choose to prioritise these because they want to make the world a better place. whether or not this leads to any financial benefit.”

He continued: “One of the biggest barriers preventing the adoption of more sustainable processes is the lack of funding and government-led infrastructure to support them – something that we have also experienced as a business.

“We have learned that there’s strength in numbers, and SMEs should look to form partnerships with other businesses with areas of common interest who are committed to making a difference. This could be as straightforward as making greener choices in your supply chain, choosing partners and suppliers whose sustainability goals support your own.”

In terms of sustainability priorities, reducing and recycling waste came out on top for 57% of UK businesses, followed by using sustainable/ eco-friendly office supplies (46%), using sustainable materials for products (39%) and using renewable energy resources (30%) and low-emission vehicles (30%).

When asked about promoting sustainability practices within their businesses, it’s clear that SMEs don’t always know the best way to reach their green objectives. Small businesses are split between the 31% who commit to a rigorous selection of suppliers with strong sustainability credentials, and the 32% who don’t promote or incentivise their staff, contractors or suppliers to meet their sustainability objectives.

Patrick Gallagher, CitySprint Group CEO, commented: “Although small businesses are committed to prioritising sustainability, it’s clear that they need more help in turning these plans into reality. We know it’s a challenge, but it’s really important that all businesses take a critical look at their overall operations so that we’re all working towards an environment fit for the future.”

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