'Net zero' tops British SME agenda for 2022

An unprecedented number of British companies are now putting environmental sustainability at the top of their business agendas, according to a new survey.

engineer gets out of van on leafy street
Three months after the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the survey of 500 SMEs (small and medium-sized businesses with up to 250 employees) found that more than three-quarters now had plans to develop sustainable business models.The quarterly Business Barometer survey by Mercedes-Benz Vans UK found that 76.9 per cent of respondents agreed either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ with the statement: “Developing a sustainable business model is a top goal for 2022.”
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This view was particularly strong among female business leaders and those aged 25-34, with more than 80 per cent agreeing with the statement in both cases.And of the 21 business owners in the survey aged 24 or under, all but one put it as the year's top priority.Companies also said they expected other firms they did business with to adhere to environmental standards, with 60 per cent saying they would consider ceasing work with a partner or supplier business that did not uphold their environmental commitments.

Positive future

Kevin Ferris, Mercedes-Benz Vans UK’s Head of Electric Mobility, said: “These figures show that Britain’s army of entrepreneurs are looking ahead positively, and are committed to doing their best to operate in tune with the environment. Here at Mercedes-Benz Vans we’re determined to offer the complete mobility solutions that will help them attain their objectives.“We want to understand the issues that keep our customers awake at night, the challenges and opportunities they face, the kind of support they need – and why.“This window into the way business people think allows us to tailor our products and services to meet their needs. But we also hope the Business Barometer surveys can help some of the most important voices in the UK economy – the diverse and hard-working community of van drivers and owners that keeps Britain moving – to be heard more widely.”

Sustainability means business

However, more than a third of business owners in the survey expressed concerns over the amount of public funding available to help them achieve a net-zero future.Looking at what is driving companies' green agenda, 15 per cent said their customers were already inquiring about their environmental policies and almost half believed that adopting sustainability policies would open up new business opportunities for them.Mr Ferris added: "We’re committed to our sustainability goals and that’s why we’re aiming to be all-electric by 2029 and why our vehicle production is now carbon neutral."This Business Barometer is a great insight into how small businesses, which account for 99.2 per cent of total UK business, are taking steps towards a cleaner, greener future – and that’s the for the benefit of us all.” 

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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