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SMEs advised to tackle carbon footprints to win work

Small and medium-sized businesses should take action and reduce their carbon footprints now in order to win future contracts based on their green credentials, industry leaders said this week.

Half of businesses have started working towards net zero but almost 50% of those surveyed by Somerset Chamber of Commerce said that while they had some knowledge of the subject, they still did not know enough about being carbon neutral.

Alistair Tudor, Somerset Chamber Operations Manager, said it was already common in some sectors for tender processes and bids to include a requirement to report on environmental credentials as larger companies looked at the carbon footprint of the whole supply chain when reporting overall totals back to Government.

“Taking proactive steps now will help firms win business, recruit environmentally savvy staff and be a positive marketing tool to help their companies grow,” Mr Tudor said.

The UK has committed to making all its greenhouse gas emissions net zero by 2050, meaning emissions must be balanced by schemes to offset the equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Somerset Chamber of Commerce questioned businesses about their environmental plans and proposals for the future in its Quarterly Economic Survey. The survey is the largest, independent business survey of its kind in the UK and the results of closely watched by policymakers, including Government and The Bank of England.

Of those surveyed, more than 28% of firms said hitting net zero targets was not a priority, while 17% said they did not have time to focus on it.

However, half of those who responded said they had made a start on being more environmentally-friendly, with electric cars, renewable energy, recycling and moving meetings online and working more digitally among the initiatives favoured by businesses.

Just over a third of businesses said they planned to be more green in the next six months to two years, although a quarter of firms had no plans to start making changes.

Mr Tudor added: “It’s clear businesses need more support if the UK is going to achieve its plans to become net zero by 2050.

“Businesses can often find that there are significant positive effects from working towards net zero. These can include cost and efficiency savings, support for recruitment efforts or company profile and the ability to be competitive in tender processes.

“However, just 10 per cent of businesses which took part in the survey cited cost savings as a reason for being more green.”

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