Net Zero U-Turn: Survey finds businesses want more Government support to Go Green

25/09/2023

DIGITAL payments solutions provider, takepayments surveyed the owners and senior leaders of over 1,000 UK-based SMEs across dozens of industries to understand their concerns. They compared the results with findings from 2022 to investigate what’s changed over the last year:

  • Although “Environmental and Sustainability Challenges” were voted as the second-biggest obstacle for small businesses in 2023, behind only “Financial Challenges” less than a third of businesses (31%) said they were passionate about making their business more sustainable, down from 39% in 2022 
  • Only 1 in 10 (11%) business owners said “Environmental Sustainability” is their biggest concern which has dropped by half since 2022, when 22% voted this as their main concern. 
  • Only a quarter (25%) believe their clients and customers care about what the company is doing for the environment — significantly down from 2022 when it was 37%

When asked about the barriers preventing them from becoming more environmentally friendly, SME owners cited financial challenges:

  • Nearly half (43%) of employers reported implementation costs as the biggest barrier, up from 34% in 2022
  • More than a quarter of businesses (27%) felt the government needed to offer more financial incentives for companies to go green
  • A third (33%) said that a lack of funding was one of the key barriers preventing them from making changes to reduce their business’s environmental impact

Despite sustainability dropping down the priority list for many employers, some UK businesses are still taking action to reduce their carbon footprint:

  • 37% of the business owners we surveyed said they were actively trying to reduce their business waste, more than double the 18% that said the same in 2022
  • More than 1 in 6 businesses (18%) are changing their packaging to reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste they produce
  • 1 in 5 businesses plan to go cashless or paper-free in the next 12 months.

In response to the data, Jodie Wilkinson, Head of Strategic Partnerships at takepayments, says:

“It’s evident that the pursuit of sustainability is not solely the responsibility of individual businesses; rather, it is a collective endeavour that demands synergy among various stakeholders. 

“The data here underscores the need for an approach that aligns the interests of consumers —- who are navigating their own economic pressures — with those of businesses struggling to implement environmentally friendly practices within constrained budgets. To achieve lasting change, the government should continue investing in substantial financial incentives and policy frameworks that support the transition to sustainability.” 

“Furthermore, fostering a sense of shared responsibility among consumers, who wield significant influence through their purchasing choices, can catalyse businesses to maintain their commitment to sustainability even amidst economic uncertainties.”

“UK business owners need a unified commitment to balance ecological preservation with economic stability, ensuring that the path to a greener future is both viable and equitable for all.”

The full report can be seen online here: https://www.takepayments.com/small-business-challenges/environment/

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