Here are the key points from this annual survey of the UK's small & medium size businesses and their attitudes to the environment.
- Only 7% of SMEs thought their business undertakes activities which harm the environment. When prompted, 46% were found to undertake an environmentally harmful activity. The most common activities were storing waste (42%), storing chemicals, fuels or oil (38%) and producing, importing, selling or using packaging (29%).
- 38% of SMEs had not heard of relevant environmental regulations, even when prompted by a list.
- 55% of SMEs had introduced practical measures to prevent or reduce environmental harm – up from 48% in 2007.
- Just 6% had a person responsible for environmental issues although 28% had made energy efficiency or water reduction improvements.
- 4% had an Environment Management System in place (15% in 2007) and 23% an environmental policy (39% in 2007). Just 12% thought this would be useful to their business.
- 80% were ‘very’ or ‘quite unlikely’ to invest money in improving their environmental performance over the next 12 months.
- 24% had reduced operating costs, 20% reduced risk of prosecution/fines, 20% motivated the workforce, 18% improved customer relationships and 8% increased sales/profitability through improved environmental performance.
The first point is the most worrying. Do 93% of businesses really not switch on the lights in the morning, purchase raw materials or use transport ever? This was closely followed by the 38% who don't know any environmental legislation - this is way down on previous years but this year they appear to have been given a prompt list.