Novuna Business Finance today published The Small Business Sustainability Report 2023, an annual report looking at the attitudes among small businesses towards sustainability, and the action they are taking themselves and within their supply chains.

The reports also look at the broader context in which small businesses are operating, the support and guidance they are lacking, and opinions on what more should be done to tackle pressing issues.

Despite a third of businesses having plans to be Net Zero, the cost of living crisis has been a setback

  • While a third of businesses have an ‘active plan’ to be Net Zero, almost one in two (45%) don’t have a formal plan in place to date.
  • Achieving Net Zero might be a distant plan for some smaller businesses, but the vast majority (85%) are also taking practical steps today to address the sustainability challenge.
  • A third of small businesses are now looking for alternative ‘green’ options for day-to-day activities. This includes reducing waste, increasing recycling, switching to renewable energy sources, encouraging cycling or walking-to-work initiatives and finding less carbon-intensive business models. 
  • The cost of living crisis did push back Net Zero as an immediate business priority in 2022 as financial worries dominated. That said, the cost-cutting did usher in green benefits, with nine out of 10 small businesses saying the crisis has forced them to become greener businesses going forward. 

78% are “Greening” their supply chain

  • More than eight in 10 small businesses (82%) recognised that ‘greening’ supply chains was an important issue — and one that could make a significant impact when it comes to reaching Net Zero targets. 
  • 78% of business leaders say sustainability is now a priority in the supply chain. 

Lack of support and cohesion a major frustration

  • Four out of five small businesses said that other businesses, regulatory bodies, industry networks and local and national governments could do more to support them.
  • More than a fifth of small businesses said there was not enough action being taken in their own business community to reduce carbon emissions.

Geoff Maleham, managing director of Novuna Business Finance comments: “With the climate crisis front-of-mind, sustainability is one of the most pressing issues for small businesses to prioritise in 2023. As the engine room of the economy, the importance of their buy-in, advocacy and contribution to the UK’s move to Net Zero cannot be understated.

“To date, the views and contributions of the small business sector to this crucial issue have not been central enough to the business and policy debate on sustainability. Many small business owners don’t know where to turn for guidance and information – and many have struggled to maintain a focus on Net Zero whilst grappling with the economic ravages of Covid and then a seismic cost of living crisis. 

“Despite all this, thousands of UK small businesses are taking positive steps under their own steam to support the climate agenda, look after their people and protect their financial strength.”

Are the banks in good health? Yes, but moral hazard remains

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By GlobalData