Sustainability is driving growth, says firms

25th March 2014


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Harrison Bowers

More than two-thirds of big businesses in the UK say sustainability is supporting innovation and growth, and half see a link to their bottom line

New research sponsored by BSI, indicates that the majority of large companies in the UK consider sustainability issues, such as carbon emissions, energy use and waste generation, as offering opportunities for business growth.

The survey of 150 directors at UK companies with revenues of at least £350 million a year, including Jaguar Land Rover and URS, reveals that 70% believe sustainability is “well established” in their organisation and is considered by senior managers as a driver for growth and innovation.

More than half (51%) of respondents also predict that sustainability will have an impact on their company’s financial performance in the next two years. However, 13% claim that such issues only affect the long-term viability of their company, while 36% believe they only impact non-financial metrics, such as energy, environment and social responsibility.

The research also quizzed sustainability and environment directors on their budgets and 55% confirm they expect spending to increase by up to 10% over the next 12 months. Ensuring projects align with the business goals and provide reputational benefits are revealed as the most important factors in allocating funds, followed by cost savings and ensuring compliance with legislation.

Meanwhile, difficulties in getting access to senior managers, in quantifying the business benefits of projects and in meeting required levels of return on investment are cited as the key barriers to sustainability projects being allocated funding.

When asked about reporting non-financial metrics, all respondents confirm their company will be publishing sustainability data in 2014, with 91% claiming such information would be integrated into annual financial reports.

Alongside reporting on carbon emissions and energy, more than two-thirds of those polled say their organisation publishes data on waste generation and water consumption. The results also reveal that 79% of firms have their sustainability data externally verified.

“Although the results show broad acceptance among organisations that sustainability is a relevant issue, British industry still has plenty more to do before sustainability becomes business as usual,” commented David Fatscher, head of market development for sustainability at BSI.

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