SMEs benefit from having certified EMS

9th December 2011


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Mitigation ,
  • Management/saving ,
  • Management ,
  • EMS ,
  • Certification

Author

IEMA

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can improve their profitability and their environmental impacts by implementing a certified environment management system (EMS), according to Defra.

A study by the environment department found that two-thirds of participating SMEs had either improved sales figures or expected to do so as a result of implementing an EMS certified to either ISO 14001 or BS 8555/Acorn.

Audits of the 31 SMEs studied revealed that more than one-third had increased sales by an average of £14,900 per million pounds of turnover.

The research also found the majority had been able to achieve tangible cost benefits, with firms making an average annual saving of £4,875 per million pounds of turnover.

However, levels of savings varied considerably, leading the researchers to conclude: “those SMEs that invested more in implementing the EMS upfront achieved the highest payback.”

Defra estimates that, based on the level of savings and the extra sales reported during the research, SMEs can achieve payback on installing an EMS and achieving certification in as little as one month.

Those firms participating in the research were also able to demonstrate improved environmental impacts, with 28 of the 31 participants reducing their carbon emissions by 39 tonnes per million pounds of turnover.

IEMA welcomed the report as highlighting the business benefits for SMEs in adopting an EMS as well as the important role of smaller businesses in the UK’s broader sustainability agenda.

“SMEs are a vital part of the economy and this research demonstrates that effective environment management helps to support jobs and enable businesses to grow sustainably, as well as reducing environmental impacts,” said Martin Baxter, IEMA policy director.

Toby Robins, sustainable development director at Wiles Greenworld, an SME with an 14001-certified EMS, said Defra’s study confirmed that an EMS can lead to new business opportunities. “There is a huge knowledge gap in many SMEs when it comes to the business benefits of embracing environmental management,” he said.

“These figures show that firms willing to look at the issues and opportunities offered by an EMS have found significant commercial benefits can be obtained.”

A spokesperson from the Federation of Small Businesses said: “Being resource-efficient can help to drive down costs during these difficult economic times and managing energy use can help insulate a firm from volatile fossil fuel prices.

“It is, however, up to an individual business to decide whether an EMS is right for them. But, with more firms using their green credentials as a way to distinguish themselves from their competitors, putting such a scheme in place could help manage that.”

A survey of SMEs in 2009 by NetRegs, the now defunct online information source on environmental good practice, found that only 4% of the 7,000 small businesses responding had an EMS in place.

Most of those surveyed said an EMS was either “no use” or of “little use” to their business. NetRegs said the complexity and cost of an EMS was putting SMEs off.


Transform articles

Local authorities could have saved Green Homes Grant

The Green Homes Grant is set to deliver only a fraction of the jobs and improvements intended, leading to calls for more involvement from local authorities in future schemes.

23rd September 2021

Read more

COVID-19 recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries, and have been a “lost opportunity” for speeding up the global energy transition.

23rd September 2021

Read more

None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.

30th July 2021

Read more

The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.

30th July 2021

Read more

Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.

30th July 2021

Read more

The oil and gas industry is set to burn through its allocated carbon budget 13 years early unless decisive action is taken immediately, new analysis has found.

22nd July 2021

Read more

The UK will no longer use unabated coal to generate electricity from October 2024, one year earlier than originally planned, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced.

2nd July 2021

Read more

The UK government is not on track to deliver on its promise to improve the environment within a generation and is failing to stem the tide of biodiversity loss, a damning new report from MPs has revealed.

1st July 2021

Read more

Renewable energy will account for nearly 40% of the world's power mix by the end of this decade, overtaking coal within the next few years, according to research by GlobalData.

24th June 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert