Two thirds of U.K. manufacturing small businesses prioritising sustainability this year
The majority of UK small business owners have started 2022 looking to improve their sustainability credentials – with small businesses in the manufacturing sector among the most likely to be making sustainability a focus for the year ahead, according to Novuna Business Finance. The research found that more than two-thirds (68%) of small businesses in the manufacturing sector were taking steps to improve areas of sustainability, well above the national average of 58%.
Of those improving areas of sustainability in the manufacturing sector, a third (36%) were investing in sustainable infrastructure and new equipment, which was twice as likely as the national average (16%). There was a major focus on packaging – nearly half (44%) planned to improve packaging and waste recycling for products and services (vs 31% av).
With increased concerns over the recent rise in fuel prices, 43% were reviewing their energy usage of the premises (water, heating, etc), which was broadly in line with the national average.
Meanwhile, a third (32%) were reducing their carbon footprint by using local suppliers and contractors (vs 27% av)
The Novuna Business Finance poll grouped survey responses into the three key areas of sustainability – planet, people and profit. Overall, in eight industry sectors in the survey (including manufacturing), small business owners were most likely to prioritise planet or environment issues. These findings suggest that whilst many small businesses see bottom-line benefit from supporting sustainability, their primary focus is to do their bit to avert the climate crisis and support people in their community.
Specifically, for the manufacturing sector, 50% of small businesses we are prioritising sustainability initiatives for environmental reasons (compared with 39% National average), and 40% had initiatives to improve their social sustainability (compared with 37% average).
Joanna Morris, Head of Insight at Novuna Business Finance commented: “With the climate crisis front-of-mind, sustainability is one of the most pressing issues for businesses to prioritise in 2022. To date, the views and contribution of the small business sector to this crucial issue has been largely ignored by policy makers and influencers. Given the seismic contribution that the small business community makes to the economy at large, we need to better understand and support the work this sector is doing not just on environmental issues but sustainability more broadly. Our survey suggests small business owners could in fact be role models from the private sector in driving progress on the issues that matter. There is evidence of a healthy balance of work being planned on economic, social and global issues and we must all support this. Novuna Business Finance will be exploring these issues more fully this year and we hope to give a voice to the small business community – and to celebrate the meaningful sustainability contribution they make to society at large.”