Uisce Éireann published its SME Sustainability Sentiment Survey, which found that 94 percent of Irish SMEs plan to increase or maintain their investment in sustainability. This represents nine out of 10 Irish SMEs that plan to keep their investment in the next 12 months to meet the demand for more sustainable services and products.
About the survey
The research conducted by Behaviour and Attitudes (B&A) inspired these developments and interviewed over 350 SMEs. The purpose of the survey was to get their opinion on the importance of investing in sustainability for their customers and businesses. In addition, to examine the barriers that currently exist to investment in sustainability.
What were the results of the survey?
Most of the survey respondents (73 percent) said they intend to maintain the current levels of investment. However, over 1 in 5 responded that they would expect to raise their spending in this specific area. The research determined that satisfying customers’ desire for more eco-friendly services and products is now the second (43 percent) critical key driver influencing SME decision-making concerning investment in sustainability.
This ranked behind cost savings (55 percent). Over half of the Irish SMEs (52 percent) shared they feel operating a responsible business attracts more customers too. Cost concerns and rising prices continue to be stand-out barriers to investing more in sustainability initiatives and strategies for 72 percent of SMEs.
Lack of education or information and Government support also remains a barrier to investment for 45 percent of SMEs. The survey also uncovered that most Irish SMEs (64 percent) are unaware or uncertain as to how to access support, including financial guidance and information to achieve sustainable savings.
What does the research mean, and how is Uisce Éireann supporting Irish SMEs?
This research gathered by Uisce Éireann reveals that Irish SMEs recognise the importance of providing sustainable services and products to their customers. With this in mind, most of them are planning to either continue putting money into sustainability or increase their investment to introduce new sustainable solutions and practices.
In saying that, the survey did highlight there is a lack of guidance and education for businesses surrounding sustainability. Nine out of ten respondents shared they do not know what to do or how to access support. Uisce Éireann is trying to tackle this by offering a suite of easy-to-access and free resources to assist SMEs in becoming more eco-friendly and cutting costs when it comes to the use of water.
This includes their Annual Certification Scheme and Water Stewardship Programme. The decision to launch these resources comes as they recognise the challenges facing SMEs and their concerns around sustainability. They have said SMEs understand the value of water to their business but that they desperately need to become more water-aware.
Uisce Éireann’s research reveals that businesses are going in the right direction concerning sustainability, but it also represents there are still knowledge gaps. Education is a key lever in making change happen, and the Diploma in Business Sustainability course can help you take your first steps in building a more ethical and eco-friendly business.