2003 volume 21(1) pages 89 – 105

Cite as:
Taylor N, Barker K, Simpson M, 2003, "Achieving 'sustainable business': a study of perceptions of environmental best practice by SMEs in South Yorkshire" Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 21(1) 89 – 105

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Achieving 'sustainable business': a study of perceptions of environmental best practice by SMEs in South Yorkshire

Nick Taylor, Karen Barker, Mike Simpson

Received 5 February 2002; in revised form 21 June 2002

Abstract. This paper provides an account of a questionnaire-based study of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and their responses to the current requirements of environmental best practice. The study was based within South Yorkshire. We aim to explore the current relationship between SMEs and the environment and how this affects their concept of 'sustainable business'. The main finding reported is that most manufacturing and service organisations surveyed believe environmental issues affect their business. However, meeting environmental requirements is seen as a business cost that is not transferable to customers in terms of added benefits and few organisations could show that it led to a competitive advantage. SMEs have only a generalist awareness of environmental legislation, and information provided by most local support services is not presented in a format that is efficient or effective. Our recommendations are that the assistance provided by local support agencies with regards to environmental best practice should be critically reviewed, and this review should seek to understand the reluctance and real difficulties faced by SMEs in comprehension and implementation of environmental legislation. This paper should therefore be used in conjunction with associated information when considering the best way to help prepare SMEs for greater involvement in environmental best practice and the achievement of sustainable business.

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