From: Jenny Little, Financial Mail on Sunday, London
Published September 21, 2004 12:00 AM

British firms realize benefits of going green

The message is getting through to small firms that going green is good for business. And by being environmentally aware, they might be doing more for their local communities than they realize.

Research from Envirowise, the Government-backed programme that advises businesses on waste management and cost savings, found that only a quarter of companies claim to have a corporate social responsibility agenda and only 15 per cent are involved in fundraising for charities and schools.

However, 94 per cent saw waste reduction as a priority and over two thirds want to limit any damage they do to the environment.

Martin Gibson, director of Envirowise, says: "Companies are realizing that being environmentally aware is good for business. There are cost benefits, it boosts staff morale and it can help relationships with customers and suppliers."

Many business owners fail to recognize that their environmental efforts can be beneficial to the community as a whole.

Gibson says: "Rather than using charitable donations to divert attention away from questionable practices, they are making real changes to the way they operate, for the good of the environment and local communities."

Derek Hall, environmental manager of printing company, Bovince, based in Walthamstow, east London, helped develop the firm's "tree of sustainability" -- a nine-branch model that incorporates targets on waste recycling, as well as the firm's involvement with the local community, including sending waste paper to schools as drawing supplies.

Derek says: "It is extra work, but it's very beneficial. Over a four-year period, we have made environmental savings of over UKpound 180,000."

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(c) 2004, Financial Mail on Sunday, London. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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