40% of SMEs have not engaged in basic measures to help cut plastic waste, reveals poll

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24th July 2019 15:14 - Business Support

40% of SMEs have not engaged in basic measures to help cut plastic waste: A survey of small and medium businesses (SMEs) has revealed many still have a long way to go in employing basic measures to help reduce single-use plastics. 

The research for Keep Britain Tidy polled 1,000 SME decision makers and found that four in ten polled (40%) said they have not looked into basic measures for reducing plastic waste within their company such as auditing or supply chain engagement.

Just over half (52%) said they were 'doing what they could' to reduce plastic waste.

The survey found that just three in ten (30%) have proactively encouraged employees to think about using reusable containers instead of single use products, while 20% said they have replaced some of the single-use plastics used by employees. Since this time last year, 14% have made filtered drinking water taps or fountains available in the workplace to help reduce the amount of single-use  plastic used.

While 70% say that staff at work seek to reduce the amount of plastic they use, more than a third of SMEs said the lack of engagement from employees is preventing any course of positive action. 

Three-quarters (76%) of decision makers say they are motivated to reduce the amount of single-use plastic used in the workplace because of a concern for the environment, however, one in five said they are not motivated by environmental concerns. For 44% of SMEs polled, setting up stations to encourage recycling is not something they see as their organisation's responsibiliy.

Of those who have taken steps to combat plastic waste, 15% say they have taken measures to replace single-use plastic items from their supply. Six percent (6%) say they have conducted an audit looking at their consumption of single-use plastics at work, while 4% said they have incentivised customers to opt for non single-use plastic alternatives. 

The survey also found 23% of SME leaders felt it was their company's responsibility to help customers to reduce plastic usage, while 22% felt their company were duty-bound to lead the way in cutting back on single-use plastics. 

Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: 

“There are some 5.7 million small and medium-sized businesses in the UK, accounting for 99% of all businesses – so we need them to take action alongside the household names.”

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