Sustainable practices key to Australia’s post-COVID economic recovery

New research reveals that the challenges posed to the Australian economy by the COVID-19 have not diminished the determination of the SME community to embrace more sustainable practices.

The study, launched by sustainable technology specialist iugis and undertaken by YouGov, surveyed over 300 SME owners and managers about their attitudes to sustainability and food waste. It uncovered the fact that 78 per cent of SMEs believe that adopting more sustainable practices will aid economic recovery post-COVID-19. In addition, 34 per cent of SMEs are now more concerned about sustainability and climate change issues than they were before the pandemic, 75 per cent of them being female SME owners.

The top three environmental concerns for small businesses are rubbish going to landfill (54 per cent), food waste (47 per cent) and water scarcity (45 per cent). According to the study, SMEs’ concern for sustainability comes from wanting to save money (55 per cent); improve the environment (52 per cent); and adopt more sustainable practices overall (48 per cent). It also noted, however, that SMEs have underestimated the potential impact sustainable practices like responsible food waste management would have on the purchasing decisions of their customers.

While 49 per cent of SMEs said customers would be more likely to buy products or services if they knew their business had strong environmental practices, recent YouGov consumer research found a larger figure of around 80 per cent of customers saying it was important for the businesses they shop and dine at to be taking positive steps to reduce waste.

“Small and medium businesses are the lifeblood of the Australian economy and in 2019 employed 44 per cent of Australia’s workforce,” Bill Papas, CEO of iugis said. “Sadly, small and medium businesses have also felt the brunt of the economic impact of COVID-19 but they see sustainability playing an integral part in our nation’s economic recovery.

“It is encouraging that the business community sees food waste as a major issue not just for their bottom line but to improve the environment and leave a positive lasting legacy for the next generation,” Papas added. “We strongly believe that access to capital should not stand in the way of that.”

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