Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) fear that sustainable practices in the US are in jeopardy – but are still “cautiously optimistic” about the future of sustainability, according to a new study from Cox Enterprises. The optimism comes from the sustainability improvements they have made within their own organizations.
The survey of SMBs showed that there has been a significant increase in the number of SMBs that have implemented sustainable business practices. This year, the survey found that 88% of companies have implemented some type of sustainability program, compared to just 62% in 2015.
SMBs may be cautiously optimistic, but most feel worse about the state of sustainability in the US. About a third (63%) feel somewhat worse or much worse about US sustainability since Jan. 2017, while 24% feel about the same and 12% feel somewhat or much better. Additionally:
- More than half of respondents say their companies are either committed or very committed to increasing their sustainable business activities. Only 7% are not committed to this effort.
- Top sustainability initiatives with SMBs include: using supplies and materials more efficiently, using energy efficient systems and equipment, and offering recycling programs.
- 72% say the US should participate in the Paris Climate Agreement.
- 31% say other priorities – namely, price – impede their sustainability efforts to a great or very great extent.
Sustainability on Main Street
Such price concerns are the reason that SMBs should join together on programs that offer sustainable solutions, because only with scale “can we find truly profitable opportunities…,” says David Rachelson, VP of sustainability for Rubicon, a waste management and recycling solutions company.