SME owners prioritising cost of goods over environmental impact

SME owners prioritising cost of goods over environmental impact
Credit: Dmitry Kalinovsky

Whether motivated by a growing eco-conscious or because it makes sound business sense, the nation’s SMEs are going green with 77% activity encouraging employees to ne more environmentally friendly.

But despite that, research from Close Brothers Asset Finance’s found that the cost of foods is still more important to SMEs than their environmental impact when it comes to procuring products for 76% of business owners.

The findings are taken from a quarterly survey of 900 businesses across the UK and Ireland.

“These results clearly demonstrate the decisions business owners are faced with every day,” said Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance.

“On the one hand they really want to be ethical in the purchasing choices they make, but on the other they need to protect their profits.

“What is encouraging is that the will is obviously there. As less environmentally damaging products become available and, importantly, affordable, they will be considered by those making the purchasing decisions.”

Recycling rates

Recycling is a priority for 81% of firms, most notably in the engineering sector where recycling rates rises to 92%.

“There are well known issues with recycling in the UK, including China’s decision to ban foreign waste imports from the start of this year,” said Mr Davies.

“But that, along with the public’s increased awareness of the impact of plastic, appears to be accelerating positive changes to the UK’s recycling system, which will make the efforts businesses are making worthwhile.”

Environmental volunteering

Close to two thirds (64%) of firms would consider offering employees one day off a year to volunteer for environmental causes.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, the smaller the firm the more reluctant they are to give people time off for voluntary work,” said Mr Davies.

“Only 52% of businesses with less than 10 employees would allow their people time out of the office; this figure rises exponentially the more people they employ and the turnover increases.”

Working from home

Business owners are far cooler about home working than volunteering, with only 45% of those polled encouraging working from home as a way to reduce their organisation’s carbon footprint and environmental impact; 48% rejected the notion outright with 7% ‘unsure’.