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AbstractPrevious studies on the environmental practices of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK and beyond have portrayed owner-managers as laggards who underplay their firm's environmental impacts and resist environmental management due to its perceived cost. Yet a recent cross-sector survey of 220 UK SMEs suggests that this intransigent stance may be slowly changing. Responses indicate a high percentage of owner-managers actively involved in recycling, energy efficiency, responsible buying and selling, and efforts to reduce their carbon emissions. Owner-managers saw it as their responsibility to help solve environmental problems and were reportedly willing to accept the costs of tougher environmental regulations and taxation. Business owners were motivated not just by the 'push' of legislation and environmental concern but by the 'pull' of potential cost savings, new customers, higher staff retention and good publicity for their firms. The survey also found that owner-managers had resonance with the Stern Review's (2006) conclusions that the benefits of strong early action on climate change outweigh the costs, and that a transition to a low-carbon economy will bring opportunities for business growth. This indicates that SMEs may be coming round to the idea that there is a business case for sustainability, although there is still some scepticism on the overall profitability of environmental action.
CitationRevell, A., Stokes, D., Chen, H. (2009) 'Small businesses and the environment: turning over a new leaf?'. Business Strategy and the Environment 19 (5), pp. 273-288