Smaller firms guilty of ‘greenwashing’

A number of SMEs have been claiming they are more environmentally friendly than they are, or 'greenwashing', it has been alleged.

According to gardening specialists Marshalls, a number of small enterprises, realising the value of presenting an environmental image, are masquerading as green-friendly firms.

Chris Harrop, group marketing director for Marshalls, says: ”Greenwashing’ has been taking hold in consumer markets for about a year and it’s been growing at pace

‘There are smaller companies who either don’t have the resources or have built a business model that won’t allow them to address either low carbon or water usage, or the ethical issues in the supply chain.’

He adds: ‘If you’re a smaller company you have a choice; you either start your business from a social or environmental perspective, and that’s your niche in the market, or you address the issue later, which in certain cases could be difficult and complicated.’

See also: Environmental checklist for small businesses

SMEs could play ‘big role’ in fighting climate change

Small businesses have the potential to play a major role in the battle against climate change, according to BT Business. It claims that sustainable business practices can deliver benefits to both companies and the environment.

By following environmental guidelines, and reducing their levels of carbon emissions, the company argues that SMEs can play an integral part in reducing climate change.

Bill Murphy, managing director of BT Business, said: “The 4.5 million small businesses in the UK are not only the lifeblood of the economy, but they can make a big difference to tackling climate change.

“The good news is that when SMEs use IT and communications technology to act in a more sustainable way, they will also benefit from reduced costs, an enhanced reputation with customers, and greater productivity among their employees,” he added.

Figures published by the Carbon Trust, looking at the role of business in the environment, revealed that firms are responsible for producing roughly half the UK’s carbon emissions, while a 20 per cent reduction in a company’s energy bills could add the same amount to its profits as a five per cent increase in sales.