There are many reasons why Sustainability is good for business, including SMEs- Many are the opportunities that an SME can benefit from, such as:
Eco-efficiencies are all about ‘doing more with less’. This includes reducing energy usage, waste, raw material and transport. These all correlate directly to reducing costs
There is a growing demand among consumers for greener and safer products. People are also concerned about where products are being sourced, and the working conditions in factories in the developing world, and look for Fairtrade and other labels. And, people are prepared to pay a premium for greener products!
New business models can be created that are service (rather than product) focused. E.g. Rolls Royce jet engines are not sold individually to airlines, but are leased on an ‘air-time’ basis. This ensures the customer benefits from fixed costs, and does not have to pay the huge outlay for the product. Rolls Royce on the other hand is not focused on selling more products, but have created a regular income stream. Because this product is designed for a long life, this is better for the environment as resource use is minimised and consumption levels are reduced.
There are many opportunities from the EU or local sources related to sustainability
Sustainable practices can lead to increased staff morale, and this motivation increases productivity.
The image of being green and more sustainable is very positive for a company’s brand.
Business-to-Business ( B2B) SMEs, can gain a ‘preferred supplier status’ by having proven environmental credentials. In some cases larger companies that source products from SMEs are demanding evidence of sustainability.
If a business is more compliant with environmental legislation, there is a lower risk of receiving a fine.
Sustainability is the New Mega Trend, where previous ones were IT and Quality. Being transparent about business practices can be an advantage, as it future-proofs you for when this will be a requirement.
SMEs should join networks to share and gain knowledge with their peers on sustainability. Being part of a network can often have the added benefit of reduced fees from other members, and perhaps be eligible for awards for good practice (e.g. Chambers CSR awards, SMILE Resource Exchange).
As SME make up 99% of all businesses, the cumulative effect of small changes in SMEs can make a real difference to the environment.
We are currently working to build a service that is effective, useful and practical for SMEs and delivers business value. If you are an SME, and are interested in our forthcoming service offering, and would like to keep in touch with our progress, or think that you would like to be profiled as a responsible and sustainable SME, email Sinéad firstname.lastname@example.org