New Carbon Trust research suggests “lack of time and expertise” is preventing small and medium-sized packaging and publishing businesses from “grabbing their share of the £3billion worth of achievable business energy savings”.
In response the UK Government-funded private company established to address the climate change threat has launched an Energy Efficiency Loans Scheme, under which it has nearly £27m available – nearly twice the amount last year – to help SMEs reduce carbon emissions and cut costs. Companies in England and Scotland deemed to be SMEs under HM Customs and European Commission criteria – i.e. those with under 250 employees and an annual turnover of £50m or less or a balance sheet totalling £43m – can apply for an interest-free loan of between £5,000 and £100,000 to reduce their carbon footprint, for instance by investing in new equipment.
The loans are available to all businesses in Wales that have traded for at least a year, while Northern Irish companies in business for the same period may be eligible for an unsecured interest-free loan of up to £400,000.
Over the past three years the Carbon Trust has provided around £90m of support for SMEs to fund services including interest-free loans, site surveys, research grants, events, online tools and “bespoke information”. The organisation’s research found that, while 55% of SME senior managers/directors in packaging and publishing realised they could reduce their carbon emissions via low and no-cost energy-saving measures, nearly two-thirds said their business had made no investment. Almost 90% of respondents’ companies did not measure carbon emissions, principally citing lack of experience, while 26% believed their business could save only between 0 and 4% on energy bills when, the Carbon Trust says, the actual average figure is around 10%.
Michael Rea, Carbon Trust chief operating officer, says: “The packaging and publishing sector accounts for around 5% of the country’s overall SME emissions, so it is essential they are supported on climate change. We have also launched new online tools designed with SMEs in mind to help them reduce their carbon emissions and cut costs.”
For more information on eligibility for a Carbon Trust interest-free loan/the Trust’s on-line energy saving tools etc visit: www.carbontrust.co.uk
Michael Rea, Carbon Trust chief operating officer