60% of UK businesses say the circular economy is important, according to new research by Biffa; however, for 36% of respondents, the perceived cost was the biggest barrier to being more sustainable.
21% of surveyed businesses in the UK didn’t know if they participate in the circular economy, with the confusion rising to 30% among small organisations.
According to new research from waste management firm Biffa from a survey conducted by YouGov, “sustainability” was at the bottom of UK decision makers’ priority lists behind “cost efficiency” in first place followed by “revenue growth”.
With 36% of businesses saying “cost” was the biggest barrier to sustainability, 38% sought “financial incentives” to be more sustainable as they grow. Respondents said that a lack of “infrastructure” and “time” (23%) also hindered environmental efforts.
Commenting on the findings, Maxine Mayhew, Chief Operating Officer, Biffa, said: “Our research shines a light on the misconception that sustainable business practices are more expensive. This could be preventing businesses from taking the first steps on their sustainability journey.
Our research shines a light on the misconception that sustainable business practices are more expensive.
“Installing solar panels and electrifying company vehicles takes serious investment and is cost-prohibitive for many in this economic climate. However, defining a sustainability strategy that works within available resources will ensure businesses only take on what they can handle.
“Sustainable business practices can be a commercial opportunity. Whatever the investment, it can potentially deliver a return. From a growth perspective, businesses attract more eco-conscious talent and clientele.”
According to Biffa’s research, 74% of manufacturing and 66% of construction decision-makers value the circular economy most. Both industries – along with hospitality and leisure, and retail – participate to similar degrees (64%).
Senior decision-makers in large manufacturers (76%), medium-sized construction businesses (68%), and those working at small hospitality and leisure businesses (62%) agree that their business is a part of the circular economy, according to the research.
UK businesses are clearly motivated to protect the environment and help combat climate change.
Roger Wright, Waste Strategy and Packaging Manager, Biffa, commented: “UK businesses are clearly motivated to protect the environment and help combat climate change. We are working with more and more early adopters innovating with sustainable packaging choices.
“They see a clear commercial opportunity in trending consumer demand for sustainable options, so investment in designing packaging can open up new sales.
“Additionally, impending legislation such as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is expected to reward sustainable packaging choices that increase circularity. Early adoption of sustainable practices gets the best of both worlds by creating opportunity and mitigating risk.”