UK businesses committed to 'going green'

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK are more committed to sustainability, including saving energy, minimising waste, and recycling, compared to their European Union (EU) counterparts, a new European Commission study has found.

The study, which was carried out across 27 EU Member States, looked into SMEs' attitudes towards resource efficiency & green markets, and found that 83 per cent were committed to saving energy, compared with the EU average of 64 per cent.

More than 80 per cent of UK firms plan to take further steps to save energy, while 90 per cent aim to improve their recycling efforts.

Although a third of respondents said that 'going green' was one of their company's top priorities, nearly a quarter said they were driven by financial incentives, particularly in preparation for tighter legislation in the future, including rising landfill taxes.

According to the report, there is also a significant commercial opportunity for UK businesses to sell 'green' products and services throughout Europe, currently a relatively untapped market, with 87 per cent of SMEs selling to the national market and only a third of UK SMEs selling to other member states.

Commenting on the study, the European Commission's vice president for industry and entrepreneurship, Antonio Tajani, said: "Only a few European SMEs extend their green business to foreign markets."

"Knowing that the EU makes up roughly one third of the world market for environmental industries means there is a huge potential for SME growth."

In the recent Budget, the Government emphasised the importance of environmentally sustainable measures which were also 'fiscally sustainable' to the UK economy.

Pledging various environmental reforms to support business growth, it announced a consultation on simplifying its Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) to reduce administrative burdens on businesses, as well as announcing moves to change the capital allowance for business cars to strengthen the environmental incentive for businesses to purchase more fuel efficient cars.