July 28 2023 - Nine out of 10 Irish Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) plan to maintain or increase investment in sustainability practices and solutions in the next 12 months to meet what many see as a growing consumer appetite for more sustainable products and services, according to the bi-annual Uisce Éireann SME Sustainability Sentiment Survey.
The majority (73%) intend to maintain current levels of investment, while over 1 in 5 expect to increase their spend in this area.
Satisfying customers’ desire for more sustainable products and services is now the second (43%) most important key driver influencing SME decision-making on investment in sustainability, ranking behind achieving cost savings (55%). More than half of Irish SMEs (52%) believe operating a sustainable business attracts more customers.
While 72% of SMEs continue to identify cost concerns and rising costs as the stand-out barrier to investing more in sustainability practices, three out of ten state a lack of information on sustainability practices and lack of Government support (45%) as problematic barriers. The survey found the majority of Irish SMEs (64%) are not aware or not sure where to access supports including information and financial guidance to achieve sustainability savings.
Commenting, Geoffrey Bourke, Business Operations Manager at Uisce Éireann, said: “The B&A research shows Irish SMEs fully realise the importance of offering sustainable products and services to their customers, with the vast majority planning to continue investing to introduce sustainable practices and solutions.
“However, the survey also found they feel there is a lack of guidance for businesses around sustainability, with nearly seven out of ten not aware or not sure where to access supports.”
Uisce Éireann offers a suite of easy-to-access and free initiatives to help SMEs reduce costs and become more sustainable when it comes to their use of water, including its first-of-its-kind-globally Water Stewardship Programme and Annual Certification Scheme.
Geoffrey added: “Uisce Éireann understands the concerns and challenges facing SMEs and this summer we commenced writing to all our 180,000 commercial customers, detailing their projected water costs and advising how they can achieve savings while also conserving water and becoming more sustainable. There is growing awareness among SMEs about the value of water to their business and the potential savings that can be made to their bottom line by becoming more water-aware.
“We also host a suite of free initiatives to help SMEs to thrive by reducing their costs and becoming more sustainable in their water use. These include our Water Stewardship Training Programme which helps organisations lower their water use, our Annual Certification Scheme, and the Uisce Éireann water conservation pledge, which enable businesses to demonstrate their commitment to water sustainability and avail of the great free resources on our website.
“We would encourage all SMEs to visit www.water.ie to find out how they can help conserve water and reduce costs.”
Conducted by Behaviour and Attitudes (B&A), the Uisce Éireann SME Sustainability Sentiment Survey interviewed over 350 SMEs, seeking their opinion on the importance of investing in sustainability for their businesses and customers and examining the barriers and that currently exist to investment in the area.