Businesses are ignoring the green debate

In fact, 7% of SMEs in the UK felt the whole green debate was actually having a negative impact on their business. This is in stark contrast to their bigger corporate brothers, with countless large businesses announcing initiatives in response to the current public focus on sustainability. These range from Marks & Spencer’s 100-point five-year plan to British Airways’ carbon offset scheme.
The research was carried out by car hire firm Enterprise Rent-A-Car. It found that amongst SMEs, cost is seen as the major obstacle to change: 58% ranked it as the biggest hurdle in becoming more environmentally friendly. This is despite the fact that many simple green measures can actually save money. This can range from installing office lights that turn themselves off to hiring new, efficient rental cars in place of that old pool car or paying out in mileage reimbursement.
It also seems SMEs are increasingly putting the “green question” in the drawer until a later date, with nearly three quarters (72%) stating they’d begin to address environmental issues more as they grew.
Rob Ingram, UK business development manager at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, comments: “Too many SMEs equate environmentally friendly options with expensive options – that’s simply not the case. In fact, in many instances, the environmental option can deliver significant cost savings.
“However, these figures suggest that this message is failing to get through to SMEs. There’s an inherent short-sightedness when it comes to the environment and too many small businesses are failing to take simple steps that can make a real difference to their bottom line and to the wider community.
“Small businesses are missing the commercial picture here. Consumers and companies are often willing to pay more for a service if it’s green; in fact, our research has shown that 80% of UK public sector procurement managers would be prepared to pay more for an environmentally friendly option from a supplier.
“The ‘green debate’ is not one to be shied away from – it’s an area where too few SMEs are realising the advantages and it’s something we’re keen to raise the profile of, not just for SMEs but for the benefit of us all.”