Firms in the East still working to be greener despite Covid, says survey

East Anglia could be at the centre of a green energy revolution

East of England businesses remain focussed on becoming more environmentally sustainable despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new survey. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

More than half of small or medium businesses in the East are still focussed on becoming more environmentally sustainable despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new survey.

The Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking’s Business Barometer found that becoming more environmentally sustainable was important to 53pc of firms – just one point fewer than the proportion which said the same in 2019.

Of the small or medium enterprises (SMEs) surveyed, 54pc said they had still actively worked to become greener in 2020 despite challenges and disruption caused by the pandemic.

A fifth said they had used suppliers that source environmentally friendly products and services or invested in energy efficient equipment or machinery in the last year.

Around one in ten firms said they had made changes to their premises to improve energy efficiency and a similar proportion had switched energy supplier or installed an on-site renewable energy source.

To pay for these changes, a quarter of firms were dipping into their cash reserves while 15pc of firms are utilising government grants.

The survey found that the top three reasons businesses are choosing to become greener are long-term costs savings (19pc), pressure from customers (15pc), and firms’ corporate social responsibility policies (12pc).

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Dave Atkinson, East of England regional director for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Most businesses had to re-evaluate their immediate priorities to deal with Covid-19, which is why it’s hugely encouraging to see so many firms with their sights still firmly set on improving environmental performance.

“Environmental sustainability will be a critical component of business’ coronavirus recovery strategies and investment in this area will support our region as its builds back better.

“We’re committed to ensuring that our customers have the help they need to transition to a greener future.

"We’re standing by the side of firms in the East with specially trained relationship teams and initiatives like our Clean Growth Finance Initiative, which offers discounted lending for environmental purposes.”