Businesses take ‘light green’ approach to environmental issues

05 August 2008

Research shows that “quick green wins” are readily adopted but deeper measures are lacking

Businesses continue to take a ‘light green’ approach to environmental issues, a survey by Kyocera has revealed. The study, carried out by the Loudhouse research consultancy among office workers and managers from across the public and private sector, shows that organisations are adopting a “quick win” attitude towards green office practices, tending to focus on easily achievable goals.

When asked which environmental measures were carried out in their offices, 74% of respondents claimed to be reducing paper use, while 72% were recycling printer toner cartridges and 86% of organisations were recycling their waste paper. These are relatively easy for a company to carry out straight away at little or no cost. However there seems to be less appetite for reducing consumption, with only 56% aiming to reduce energy use and only 41% consciously using energy efficient IT products.

Worryingly though, some key activities such as recycling IT hardware scored lower than expected in the survey. Even though a year has passed since the WEEE Directive was introduced, only 56% of organisations are recycling their IT equipment, despite it being compulsory for vendors to provide this facility. Still more surprising was the fact that only 29% of organisations stated that they took the environmental credibility of suppliers into account when making purchasing decisions.

Green Squeeze

As expected, cost constraints are one of the key concerns when companies are trying to implement green initiatives, with 54% citing cost as a significant barrier. However, there was a sense that concern over energy prices in an economic downturn will have a knock-on effect on encouraging environmental actions such as reducing consumption. 60% of respondents believed that rising energy prices would encourage organisations to take steps to become more environmentally responsible.

Tracey Rawling Church, Marketing Director at Kyocera UK, commented: “Our research has shown that while long-established activities such as paper and toner cartridge recycling are entrenched within organisations, more complex activities such as supply chain scrutiny still languish far behind. Currently there is three times as much attention being paid to recycling paper as there is to making environmentally conscious purchasing decisions in the first place. It’s disappointing to see that the majority of organisations still pay more attention to the “recycle” element of the 3Rs than to reducing consumption, which can have far more impact. More encouragingly though, economic factors now appear to be lining up alongside environmental concerns to drive organisations to act to reduce both costs and consumption and it’s likely that we’ll see a lot more focus in this area in the coming months.”

The survey was based on interviews with 369 respondents from a broad range of industry sectors in June 2008. The survey also examined levels of employee engagement with green initiatives, and levels of personal concern versus perceived levels of organisational concern for the environment.

For a full breakdown of the survey and executive summary please click here

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