SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy, accounting for an estimated gross value added of £376bn back in 2013. This shows their sheer size in numbers, and is surely an indicator that they will continue to constitute a huge part of the overall economy for years to come.
As such, their sustainability is a topic of paramount importance, and one which many businesses across the country are taking seriously. Here are some considerations with regards to UK SMEs and their sustainability.
It is worth noting that, as a country, the UK is fairly conscious of its overall impact on the environment, and the government has created environmental taxes in order to encourage businesses to operate in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way.
This means that the general landscape for SMEs to continually improve their sustainability is good, and they will not face too many barriers. With the sheer amount of SMEs in the country, however, there will always be differences in how sustainable each business is, and how much they are doing to reduce their impact on the environment.
The drive to improve environmental impact has come a long way in the last decade or so, with numerous schemes now in place to help businesses improve their sustainability for the long term.
Some SMEs, for instance, are scrapping their offices altogether, opting for a more decentralised business structure in which their employees work remotely. This reduces electricity use, waste, fuel consumption from commutes, and saves a lot of money overall, so could be considered one of the most effective methods for improving sustainability. Smaller businesses could make simpler improvements like reducing reliance on paper/plastic, which can make a big difference in the long run.
Whilst there are already a number of sustainability programmes to help SMEs improve their sustainability, the introduction of more would no doubt help in bringing standards up. SMEs which frequently use parcel delivery, for instance, could look at guides such as those provided by TNT in order to see how they could minimise the impact of sending their goods to their various destinations.
As the environmental situation across the world continues to get more desperate (global warming, plastic in oceans etc.), the only logical step is the increase the help available for SMEs to improve sustainability.
So, UK SMEs do, in general, seem to have good prospects for improving sustainability, and many are already taking the imitative to be as sustainable as possible. This trend will hopefully continue into the future, as environmental sustainability becomes ever more important.