Businesses want to become greener – and hope it’ll save cash too

03 January 2020

  • Improving environmental sustainability important for two thirds (64%) of businesses.
  • Potential long-term cost savings the most common reason to go green (23%).
  • A third (34%) of SMEs plan to use cash reserves to become more sustainable.

Almost two thirds (64%) of small and medium-sized businesses want to improve their environmental sustainability, according to Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking’s Business Barometer.

Nearly half (44%) say becoming more environmentally sustainable is important to them, while a further fifth (20%) say doing so is very important. Moreover, 63% say they have already taken steps to make their businesses greener in the past 12 months.

Almost a quarter (24%) of SMEs have made alterations to their premises to make them more energy efficient in the past year, while a similar proportion (22%) have used suppliers that provide environmentally-friendly services or products.

While the commitment from businesses to make themselves more sustainable is good for the environment, nearly a quarter (23%) of firms admit they are primarily driven by the potential to make long-term cost savings.

As public focus on transitioning to a low carbon economy rises – and given the government target of bringing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 – over a fifth (22%) say they are motivated mainly by pressure from customers.

More than a third (34%) of SMEs say they plan to use cash reserves to become more sustainable. Meanwhile, 13% say they will rely on government grants.

A tenth (11%) of SMEs said they had not made their businesses more environmentally sustainable in the past year due to the cost implications.

Keith Softly, head of asset finance at Lloyds Bank Global Transaction Banking, said: “With environmental sustainability high on the agenda for firms of every size - whether that means they’re doing what they can to reduce energy consumption or cut waste - businesses understand there is often a financial benefit to making their operations greener.

“As ever, before making significant investments, businesses should consider all the available funding options to decide which is most appropriate for them. When it comes to going green there are options such as government grants, asset finance solutions that help spread the cost of an investment over its lifetime and initiatives like our Clean Growth Finance Initiative which offers discounted lending for green purposes.”

“Regardless of motivation, we can be confident the impetus to introduce green measures isn’t going anywhere. Becoming more sustainable is a gradual process the UK business community must navigate together.”