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13 Apr 2011 12:04:18

SMEs 'lack resources to embrace sustainability'

SMEs 'lack resources to embrace sustainability'
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) simply do not have the time or money to make their operations more sustainable in many cases, one expert has claimed.

Professor Ross King, joint programme director at the Centre for Sustainable Environmental Management - Brunel Management Programme, said it was a sweeping generalisation to say the private sector was not as committed to going green as the public sector, but smaller firms do struggle.

A recent report by the Cambridge Network claimed the number of public sector organisations classed as leaders in their attitude towards sustainability was far greater than private sector organisations.

However, Professor King said research conducted by CSEM – BMP three or four years ago found of the top 1,000 UK companies, the first 300 were already "relatively on the ball" in having a point person to handle climate change issues, although results were "erratic" further down the list.

"Certainly, when you get down to the SMEs, they really do struggle. Some of these people are run off their feet just trying to keep their business alive," he said, naming the amount of regulation smaller firms have to comply with as the biggest burden.  ADNFCR-1235-ID-800498002-ADNFCR

Discussion Thread  

22 Apr 2011

I read with interest this comment on SMEs and agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment. SMEs are focused on survival as much as sustainability - and rightly so. Their future is not as assured as for a blue chip company, but by the same token their growth can be sustainably much faster - to the benefit of the nation's economy as much as to the business itself. Given adequate support along the way to ease the pain of cash/energy consumption and deal with the burden of regulation, the SME will be increasingly motivated to 'turn green'. Policing of regulations is not enough - a lighter and more engaging touch is needed. Much of the innovation and creativity in British industry comes from the SMEs, and there is a strong desire to achieve progress. An incentive is needed.

22 Apr 2011

I see an opportunity here for local Chambers of Commerce to help in this respect. They are ideally placed to help and advise their member SMEs to increase their sustainability. They have business advisors already in most chambers, and need to wake up to the fact that sustainability is a big issue now and will be around for many years to come. Employing sustainability advisors in the Chambers would give SMEs that local, specialist advice and support, and take some of the burden away.

I understand from academic literature that Chambers of Commerce across the UK struggle to get their voice heard with government (mainly due to the much srtonger CBI influence). This could be a good opportunity to not only increase their relevance to SMEs, but also to increase their voice nationally.

Discussion Thread  


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