Barclays has today revealed that small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) not considering their eco-credentials could be missing a trick as environmental considerations become an ever-higher priority for consumers.
The research found that over half of Brits (57%) placed going green highly on their personal agenda, with nearly half (45%) actively seeking to purchase products or services from businesses that are environmentally friendly.
Ian Rand, chief executive of Barclays Business Banking said, “In recent years, consumer trends and habits have clearly swung towards a more eco-based focus, and SMEs need to ensure they are adhering to the same values in order to strengthen and grow.”
It’s not just consumers who are paying attention to a business’s approach to green but the workforce too. Seven in 10 workers (70%) revealed it is important to them that their current or prospective employer is considered a green business, with the figure reaching nearly eight in 10 (77%) amongst Gen-Z.
Research reveals that SMEs are starting to listen to consumer demands, with 22% actively making changes to reduce their carbon footprint and a further 41% looking to make changes within the next year. Over the next 12 months, SMEs in the North East (47%), East Midlands (46 per cent) and the North West (45%), look to be leading the way when wanting to introduce green polices.
To back UK SMEs with their green ambitions, Barclays Business Banking has launched Green Loans to assist business customers with eco-friendly changes to their business. Lending of up to £5m is available to SMEs looking to fund initiatives across energy efficiency, renewable energy, green transport, sustainable food, agriculture and forestry, waste management, and greenhouse gas emission reduction. SMEs can apply by speaking to their Relationship Manager.
Rand added, “The launch of our Green Loans product is one way for companies to engage with their employees and customers, giving them the opportunity of accessible lending to adopt green policies across their business.”
For SMEs looking to cut their carbon footprint, Barclays has outlined the following top tips:
- Buy sustainably: Next time the light bulbs need changing, consider compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED options, and opt for remanufactured printer cartridges, recycled paper and biodegradable cleaning products
- Cut commutes: Introduce a flexible ‘work from home’ policy to reduce emissions and consider holding meetings remotely, with tools like video conferencing
- Invest in renewables: Consider installing renewable energy equipment, such as solar panels, or ask your utilities provider for a green power supply
- Buy supplies locally: This will help minimise shipping costs and your business’ carbon footprint
- Spread the word: Bring colleagues and customers on board with going green and provide incentives for those who actively participate in green initiatives