Earth Day 2022: UK SMEs are striving to be more sustainable

Despite feeling overwhelmed about how to take climate action, research from Ecologi, a climate action platform has shown that eight in ten business owners want to be greener, just don’t know where to start. 

This Earth Day,  Ecologi has unveiled research revealing that 91% of SME owners in the UK believe it’s important to be sustainable but they struggle due to a lack of guidance (42%), efficient carbon footprint data (37%) and time (37%). 

The survey of 500 UK SME owners also found that eight in ten want their business to be more sustainable, while 83% feel that the government needs to do more to educate and support them in their sustainability efforts. This comes despite them offering funding to help businesses in the UK become more sustainable as part of their commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. 

On a more promising note, the majority (84%) feel their company is as environmentally friendly as it claims to be with 67% of SMEs already having a sustainability strategy in place for their enterprise. But three in ten admit their business ought to be more sustainable than it currently is, with nearly a third (31%) blaming the pandemic for getting in the way of their short-term plans. 

Amidst a historically high level of concern over environmental issues in the UK, particularly following COP26 and this year’s IPCC report, three quarters (75%) of entrepreneurs feel overwhelmed about how their organisation can tackle climate change. While a stark 56% are reluctant to introduce a policy because they feel it’s too late to reverse climate change.

Elliot Coad, CEO and Co-Founder of Ecologi said: “It’s promising to see how many businesses are already trying to make sustainable changes, but concerning that so many are still confused and some even believe it’s too late to make a difference.”

SMEs who responded to the survey said they’re doing everything in their power to be greener, with almost three quarters (72%) of owners believing sustainable initiatives are worthwhile and an encouraging 85% recognising that it’s important for their company to be considered sustainable. Organisations are also feeling pressure from younger employees (80%) to improve their environmental credentials. 

Despite more and more businesses committing to be net-zero or carbon neutral, seven in ten respondents admitted that they don’t fully understand this kind of terminology. To help business owners navigate around tackling the climate crisis and improve their green credentials, 22% already have a dedicated sustainability officer in place. 

Coad continued: “The smallest of changes can have a big impact, so we want to help SMEs realise this and understand the steps they can take to help the environment. Through collective action, individuals and businesses can have a real, tangible impact in combating climate change.”

The research, which was conducted by OnePoll, supports Ecologi’s Power of Possible campaign which saw the company team up with Entrepreneur Steven Bartlett to spread the word about how businesses can be more sustainable.

Steven Bartlett, entrepreneur, speaker and investor on BBC’s Dragon’s Den said: “From these survey results it is clear that more guidance needs to be given to navigate around a very important but overwhelming climate situation, whether it’s providing more funding from the government, receiving training on how to tackle the issues or signing up for a climate action platform, like Ecologi. There’s no denying it’s companies like theirs who are so instrumental to helping organisations be more sustainable, and if every business takes a small action it will amount to a significant change.”