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Small, as well as medium-sized businesses, have a responsibility to the individuals and groups that they affect. Unfortunately, corporate social responsibility is not implemented, nor is it utilised by organisations. It appears that SMEs do not have a clue about their environmental impacts.

Business owners/managers have green attitudes, yet they fail to implement environmentally-friendly practices. They are not aware about environmental issues and, therefore, cannot take measures so as to reduce the environmental impacts of their actions. This is a problem taking into consideration that small and medium-sized businesses have the biggest impact.

environmental impacts

The environmental footprint of SMEs

There are many laws and regulations aimed at protecting the environment from harmful actions. The European Union has a great many measures that are meant to enhance the quality of the environment for European citizens and protect their quality of life. And to help businesses make the transition to a sustainable economy. Most environmental legislation is targeted at large corporations. This basically means that others can get away with it. In spite of the fact that the individual environmental footprint of SMEs is low, their aggregate impact is superior to that of large businesses.

Owners/managers of small and medium-sized businesses are socially responsible by nature. So they have no choice but to take responsible action. It has been estimated that businesses whose personal numbers fall below the limit contribute to more than 50 percent of the environmental impact. How is that even possible? In the United Kingdom, there were 5.7 million firms in 2017, which represented about 99 percent of all businesses. Businesses of this kind employ more people than large corporations. Put simply, they dominate the economy. It is, thus, important that the workers receive environmental education.

SMEs do not do harm on purpose. It is just that they are oblivious when it comes down to their actions. Miltek thinks that small and medium-sized businesses are owning up to their mistakes and that they do not prefer to take the easy road.

Tools for information and financial incentives to improve environmental performance

The European Union has been making tremendous efforts to support the SME sector, not to mention entrepreneurs. The EU helps them make the most out of business opportunities, offering access to market information and assistance with overcoming legal issues. Right now, political and economic union will provide them the necessary tools and incentives to improve their environmental impact. Owing to new communications technologies, it is possible to support a green economic activity.

Let us talk a little bit about financial incentives. In the United Kingdom, for instance, it is possible to get relief or be exempt from paying taxes if you invest in energy-efficient technology. The amount that companies spent on green energy rose during the years of the coalition government, yet, unfortunately, has now decreased. It is hoped that the industry will keep on buying green technology and that they will reduce their environmental impact.

Effective sustainability practices for business

There are competitive advantages for firms that choose to go green. Examples include but are not limited to saving on utility costs, complying with the law, and becoming trustworthy. Small and medium-sized businesses can set about sustainability by following these practices:

1. Reducing solid waste

Frequently, organisations underestimate the amount of waste that they produce. They do not pay great attention to the objects that they discard. They simply get rid of it. Attention needs to be paid to the fact that landfills contain too much solid waste. There are tons of garbage and it is essential for firms to reduce the amount of solid waste by reducing the amount of trash or recyclable material that they discard. This can be realized with the help of balers and compactors. These machines can be used for anything from cardboard to plastic. The balers and compactors are perfect for businesses such as retail, gardening centres, hotels, restaurants, and printing.

2. Going paperless

There is no better time like the present for SMEs to go paperless. 12 million tonnes of paper are used annually in the United Kingdom alone. Ceasing to use paper will not save the planet, but it will have positive consequences. Printing, as well as publishing, consumes wood and energy. It is true that the amount is not a significant one, but still. It is very simple for small and medium-sized businesses to go paperless. The solution is provided by technology. Documents can be kept in the computer and shared with everyone in the office. Storing the documents in the virtual environment makes them easier to identify and offers the opportunity to work remotely.

3. Conserving water

More and more companies should pledge to reduce their water use. Water is fast becoming a scarce resource and something needs to be done. Restricting the use of the toilet or break room is out of the question. However, it is possible to outfit low-flow restrictors. The most important thing is to get a water audit. SMEs should become aware of the amounts of water that they consume and seek professional help. Rebates are offered for water-saving initiatives, so who knows? Anyway, water conservation should at the top of the list as far as environmental sustainably practices are concerned.

Final thoughts

At present, increasing attention is paid to the role of small and medium-sized businesses, as their operations have environmental impacts. While some SMEs fail to incorporate environmental practices into their business processes, others have taken measures to improve their environmental performance, redirecting their entrepreneurial energies in the right direction.

The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of firms are not aware of how much damage they are causing. The reason for this is that they are too focused on meeting the needs of their clients. The efforts of SMEs that are going green will no doubt encourage others to do the right thing. As mentioned from the get-go, business owners/managers have a positive attitude towards sustainability and they are willing to make a change to their environmental impacts.

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