Most UK firms think sustainability will boost sales

Saleha Riaz
·3-min read
Three quarters  of UK businesses now have metrics in place to measure environmental sustainability, up from 62% in 2019. Photo: Getty Images
Three quarters of UK businesses now have metrics in place to measure environmental sustainability, up from 62% in 2019. Photo: Getty Images

Embargoed to 00.01 Thursday 17 December

The majority of UK companies (78%) expect greater focus on sustainability to result in a growth of sales over the next year, according to research from HSBC UK (HSBA.L).

The HSBC Navigator report surveyed 1,000 businesses in the UK and also found that three quarters (75%) of UK businesses now have metrics in place to measure environmental sustainability, up from 62% in 2019.

These include measuring energy usage, measuring carbon emissions and measuring packaging materials and waste.

Almost three quarters (73%) of British businesses plan to introduce net zero emissions goals to their own operations and across their supply chains, the study found.

Rob King, HSBC UK head of sustainable finance, said: “The report tells us that firms genuinely want to build back better and have sustainability and the move to a net zero economy right at the top of their priority lists as they look to adapt their operations to the ‘new normal’.”

He noted that “sustainable practices will have a positive impact not only on their reputation but also their performance and profitability.”

However, he said “there is still work to do. The government announced its Green Industrial Revolution plan last month and our research suggests that firms will need further support and incentives as they strive to reach these lofty goals.”

WATCH: Will Interest rates stay low forever?

READ MORE: UK lays out green plan to support up to 220,000 jobs

Almost nine in 10 (86%) UK businesses believe there are multiple opportunities to improve their environmental and ethical sustainability, most notably by introducing new ways of working and promoting employee well-being.

More than two-fifths (42%) of firms say that government incentives will help them to become more sustainable in the future followed by workforce engagement or initiatives (31%) and green financing (29%).

HSBC said it has set out an “ambitious plan” to prioritise financing and investment that supports the transition to a net zero global economy.

“At the heart of the plan is a pledge to reduce financed emissions from our portfolio of customers to net zero by 2050 or sooner,” it said.

Earlier this week the UK government built on prime minister Boris Johnson’s 10-point programme for a Green Industrial Revolution, by laying out specific steps it will take over the next decade to cut emissions from industry, transport, and buildings by 230 million metric tonnes.

The plan includes kick-starting the hydrogen economy and accelerating the rollout of charge points for electric vehicles.

Last month it was revealed that more than half (56%) of UK consumers are willing to pay slightly more for an environmentally sustainable product or service, according to a survey by EY.

Alongside this, consumers have shown a willingness to compromise for a more sustainable option. Almost half (45%) of consumers would be happy to accept a slightly lower quality product or service where sustainability credentials are strong, the survey of 2,000 people in the UK found.

WATCH: The £2bn Green Home Grants scheme explained