Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Business low down pecking order for effecting environmental change

October 2013

British high street stalwart Marks & Spencer proved top of most consumers’ minds when asked to name a company that took environmental sustainability seriously in their daily business operations.

The Co-operative Group ranked second, Tesco third, BP fourth and Sainsbury’s fifth.

However, the study exposes the fact that two thirds (68%) of respondents were unable to name a company taking the issue of environmental sustainability seriously.

The research, conducted amongst 1,819 adults for the Carbon Trust by YouGov found that only 5% see businesses as being most effective in helping the environment, when compared to environmental pressure groups, academics and the government. By contrast, 22% of those surveyed see businesses as being the most effective in helping the economic recovery.

The study also shows that the public sees the quest for a greener future as lying firmly in the hands of environmental organisations (e.g. charities and pressure groups), which are seen as the most important player in helping the environment to recover and are most likely to be trusted out of any group on the environment.

 “Whilst it’s clear that consumers still care about the environmental future, their perspective on where the responsibility falls is skewed. It cannot be solely down to environmental groups to shoulder the weight of protecting our planet’s natural resources. Businesses have an enormous role to play here and need to be seen to be doing their part,” explained Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust.

The study is not all bad news. The demand for green products appears to be increasing with only 6% saying they are less likely to buy a sustainable product and/or service than 5 years ago while almost three in 10 (27%) said they are more likely. Increased concern about the personal impact of what they buy on the environment was the most important reason for this (45%) and 43% of the public surveyed said they lead a more sustainable life than 5 years ago.

 On a further optimistic note, five years after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, the UK public is confident that the economy can be fixed and are looking to businesses, consumers and governments respectively to take control of this.

 Tom Delay added: “These signs of confidence in economic future success should strengthen the case for a more sustainable future. As businesses look for more ways to grow, sustainability should become a golden opportunity for investment, allowing them to become more resilient to future environmental resource shocks and to cut their costs and grow their revenues. The smart companies will invest now and put sustainability inside their businesses.”

UK & NI Ireland | Sustainability

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