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Scottish SMEs remain committed to sustainability despite Covid-19

Posted: 6th January 2021
  • More than half (56%) of Scottish SMEs say becoming more environmentally sustainable is important to their business.
  • Two thirds (68%) have worked to become more environmentally sustainable in the last year, using cash reserves (32%) and government grants (26%) to fund improvements.
  • Pressure from customers (20%) and long-term cost savings (19%) are SMEs’ primary sustainability drivers.

The majority of Scottish SMEs remain focused on improving their environmental sustainability despite Covid-19, according to Bank of Scotland’s Commercial Banking’s Business Barometer.

More than half (56%) of Scottish SMEs said becoming more environmentally sustainable is important to their business – just 13 points fewer than the proportion that said the same in 2019 (69%).

Despite the challenges of the last year and the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, more than half (68%) of Scottish SMEs have continued to work to become more environmentally sustainable in the past 12 months.

Almost a third said they have invested in energy efficient equipment or machinery (28%) or made alterations to their premises to make it more energy efficient (27%).

Meanwhile, a fifth of (20%) have used suppliers that source environmentally friendly products and services, while a similar proportion (17%) introduced policies and incentives to help employees reduce their carbon footprint.

When it comes to Scottish SMEs’ sustainability drivers, pressure from customers (20%), long-term costs savings (19%) and firms’ corporate social responsibility policies (14%) are the top three factors.

Cash reserves (32%) and government grants (26%) are the most popular forms of finance for SMEs looking to improve their environmental performance.

Fraser Sime, regional director for Scotland at Bank of Scotland: “Scottish business have experienced major disruption this year because of Covid-19, so it’s encouraging to see so many that are still focused on improving their environmental credentials. Environmental sustainability will play a huge part in the success of Covid-19 recovery strategies, both in Scotland and across the UK.

“From discounted funding for green initiatives to making available specially trained relationship teams  that can advise on sustainability strategy, we will continue to stand by the side of Scottish businesses to support the transition to a low carbon economy.”

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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