Small businesses divided over environmental measures

Published:  03 December, 2009

UK: More than one in five small firms are delaying embracing environmentally-friendly measures because of the recession. Almost as many are being encouraged to implement them, a survey carried out by the Forum of Private Business suggests.

In all, 22% of business owners on the FPB's environmental member panel said that economic conditions had made them less likely to pursue environmentally-friendly solutions. However, 17% said they are even more likely to do so.

The majority of respondents (61%) said the recession had no impact on their environmental policies.

A quarter of panel members (26%) have as yet implemented no environmental measures, but 22% have formal plans and 56% informal policies in place.

"When small businesses are considering implementing environmentally-friendly policies, the will is certainly there but it is often thwarted by the perception of steep costs and a lack of information and support," said the FPB's policy representative, Matt Goodman.

"It is important to emphasise that measures to reduce carbon emissions can mean savings on the bottom line, but we also need a more joined-up approach from the Government including a system of workable incentives that are rewarding rather than punitive."

In total, around two-thirds of respondents identified barriers to implementing energy-efficiency processes.

The main two reasons were the costs involved and because businesses in rented premises saw no reason to pay for improvements of benefit to their landlords.

Other barriers included planning issues; time; payback period; lack of support and lack of knowledge about where to access grants and information.

The most popular measure for improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions is regularly monitoring fuel bills (52%), followed by upgrading commercial premises (48%), investing in technology (43%), reducing the use of resources (39%).

In all, 22% have launched environmentally-friendly products and services and 9% have taken action to reduce emissions by working directly with their supply chain.

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