Environmental policies pay off

Businesses taking up best practice on environmental issues can expect to see an increase in profits, according to the Business Environmental Training Initiative (BETI).


Businesses taking up best practice on environmental issues can expect to see an increase in profits, according to the Business Environmental Training Initiative (BETI).

Businesses taking up best practice on environmental issues can expect to see an increase in profits, according to the Business Environmental Training Initiative (BETI).

BETI, the recently-launched, Bedfordshire-based project that aims to educate small firms and train staff on environmental issues, predicts bottom-line increases of between 1% and 4% for businesses implementing green policies

Despite this, many small firms in the UK are failing to take action on environmental issues despite recognising the positive effect it can have on their business, according to a survey from the Environment Agency.

The survey, SME-nvironment 2003, the largest ever into the environmental behaviour of small- and medium-sized firms, shows only a fifth of “micro-businesses” (those with fewer than 10 staff) and a third of small businesses (between 10 and 50 staff) have taken “positive steps” to limit the impact they have on the environment.

These steps include selecting a member of staff to be responsible for environmental issues, undertaking a programme of environmental improvements and conducting an environmental assessment.

There was also a lack of awareness of key environmental legislation with the most widely recognised being the Environmental Protection Act, which covers waste management and contaminated land. This affects most businesses but was identified by just half of respondents.

Only a quarter of small firms were aware of the Duty of Care Regulation, which apply to the storage, handling and disposal of waste and apply to all businesses that produce or dispose of waste. The majority of respondents were also unaware of legislation controlling water usage and packaging waste.

The main motivation for implementing environmental good practice was general concern for the environment (cited by over half those surveyed) while only 8% were driven by potential business benefits.

However, significant numbers of respondents believed there was a link between good practice and increased sales, reduced operating costs, improved relationships with customers and workforce motivation, although avoiding prosecution was viewed as the main benefit of introducing a successful environmental policy.

For more information and advice on environmental matters, go to www.netregs.gov.uk or www.envirowise.gov.uk. To find out more about the Business Environmental Training Initiative, go to www.beti.info .

Some useful links and advice can also be found in our Environment section.

(1/7/03)

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