A recent study has revealed that small businesses within the United Kingdom have increased their prioritization of sustainability. Many surveyed business leaders recognized the economic benefits of lowering emissions and overall greater awareness of the importance of carbon reductions to their business, however, businesses still admit to some cost barriers.
The study, done by Novuna Business Finance, surveyed over 1,000 small business leaders in 2022 and 2023 to evaluate their perspective on emissions reductions. According to the company, the foremost finding was that 28% of polled businesses say environmental sustainability and consideration form the foundation of their business, up from 19% in 2022.
Further, companies not prioritizing carbon reductions decreased to 10% from the previous 14%.
Increasing Emphasis on Emissions Reduction Targets
Results of the study also revealed increased awareness of setting carbon emissions targets and the business benefits associated with striving to meet net zero emissions. 33% of respondents, up from 23% in 2022, said they believed there were significant business benefits to striving for net zero, and 22% admitted the need for sustainability in order to secure funding, up from 13%. IT businesses were the most likely to recognize such benefits, while the transportation sector admitted to needing to do more in this category to secure funds.
Emissions targets were also found to be on the rise, with 28% of businesses having clear emissions reduction targets, up from 20%. The transport and distribution sector was found to be especially well-informed of the importance of setting sustainability targets (46%), with the retail sector less so (23%).
A correlation was also found between businesses’ tech-savviness and sustainability objectives — businesses making full use of tech innovation had a better grasp on their emissions goals than those admitting to being constrained by technology.
Reported Challenges to Continued Small Business Sustainability Efforts
Along with increased awareness of sustainability practices’ importance, small businesses admitted to more difficulty in balancing sustainability with business growth this year compared to 2022. The construction and agricultural sectors found this to be especially relevant, with 42% and 47% of businesses admitting to this challenge, respectively.
“In the face of severe headwinds, from inflation to economic uncertainty, it would be fair to assume that priorities become focussed on cost control, side-lining sustainability efforts,” said Joanna Morris, head of marketing and insight at Novuna Business Finance. “We can see here, that despite the various challenges, there is increased awareness, deeper understanding, and an even stronger commitment to sustainability from the business community, not less. Importantly, these business leaders are not merely paying lip service to sustainability but are embedding it into the core of their business strategies.”
Morris also asserted that support from the government and the wider business community could help lower the cost small businesses face when adopting emissions-reduction plans.