One in four small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the UK consider sustainability one of their highest concerns for the coming year, according to a new survey by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking (LBCB).
While sustainability is becoming an integral part of the business landscape, it has traditionally been much more difficult for smaller firms, who may lack the resources to make changes to company administration practices, LBCB says.
Encouragingly, the survey found that three out of ten SMEs plan to invest more in sustainable business practices over the next five years, although another 42 percent said that spending on sustainability is likely to remain flat.
Of those yet to adopt any sustainable business practices, more than 40 percent said they planned to do so in the next five years. Significantly, they appeared to be doing so for business reasons rather than out of a sense of ethics — more than half said that sustainability would be beneficial for cutting costs and then maintaining profitability, while just 28 percent wanted to contribute to their local community.
“Some sectors are really leading the way and other industries across the UK economy can follow their example and help underpin the growth we are now seeing with practices that will give us all a sustainable future,” said Stephen Pegge, external relations director at Lloyds Banking Group.
Healthcare companies led the way, with 100 percent saying they were involved in some sustainable practices, while the leisure, professional services and financial services industries all reported figures somewhere close to 90 percent.
Hopefully the restaurant industry is also planning to follow suit: Almost half (43 percent) of diners polled say they would pay up to 10 percent more for a meal in a sustainable restaurant, according to research revealed in September by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). The survey also found that more than half (56 percent) of diners would pay more for a meal if they knew the restaurant was investing in reducing its environmental impact and taking its social responsibility seriously.