Comment: Why SMEs must do their best for the environment

Holly AbbottUncategorized

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We hear today that the Government is adopting targets that will require a 57% cut in the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Now, I don’t know about everyone else, but when I hear these kind of targets, it has always evoked images of smokestacks, huge power stations, and grand factories spewing their waste into the atmosphere. In other words, it’s a ‘big business’ problem. SMEs like us don’t need to worry.

I believe that is wrong, however. Resolving our environmental problems requires all businesses to do their bit. We’ve seen too many examples, such as the carbon emissions trading scheme, where regulation either doesn’t work or actually creates more problems. The regulations and targets have been followed, but not in their spirit. This proves that caring for the environment is as much a cultural and mindset issue, as it is a regulatory one.

That’s why SMEs must do their bit. Whatever they can. It doesn’t have to be grandiose schemes, either. It can be little changes that make a big long-term difference. For example, when we recently refurbished The Angel Hotel in Pershore, we replaced our ageing fridges with more energy efficient models. We’ve upgraded our boiler and hot water systems to reduce the amount of wasted energy. We’re replacing as many lights as we can with energy efficient, LED lighting, and our bedroom corridors now have lights that automatically switch off when no one is walking around. Of course, there are bigger things you can do. Insulation and putting in double-glazed windows are no-brainers, but we’ve also now got solar panels providing electricity too.

However, we’ve also understood that the philosophy of a business can make a big impact on the environment. Our drive to source the best of local produce reduces our food miles, and we make sure we go out and get organic and sustainable food. This includes our own Farm, which is managed to organic and sustainable principles.

Obviously, all these things deliver a business benefit too. But we don’t think this is hypocrisy. In fact, we think this is crucial to getting SMEs to do their bit. There are also awards out there too which can do wonders for business credibility. We were recently shortlisted for the Wychavon Intelligently Green Awards in recognition of our efforts. We stressed that we weren’t just doing it for our benefit, but in the hope that it inspires others too.