Small independent hospitality businesses are Britain's top recyclers but green efforts are falling by the wayside as the recession deepens, a new report suggests.
The biennial SME-environment survey by environmental guidance website NetRegs.gov.uk found that 87% of small hotels and restaurants currently recycle, up from 80% in two years and well above the UK average.
The sector has also improved its energy and water efficiency, up from 14% in 2007 to 32% and a further 58% of businesses have introduced practical measures to reduce their environmental impact.
But it wasn't all good news. The study of 7,000 SMEs (small and medium enterprises) found that just one in four are planning to invest in improving their environmental performance over the next year and 73% think environmental management systems are of "no use".
Debbie Chatting, marketing strategy manager at NetRegs.gov.uk, warned that green efforts are starting to fall back in many areas and urged operators to nominate "green ambassadors" to continue to promote the cause.
"Our survey has unearthed a level of denial among some businesses which still don't acknowledge the harm that they can do to the environment nor recognise the business opportunity it presents to them. SME's make up 99% of British business, so their cumulative impact is huge," she said.
Chatting added that eco-savvy consumers and the mounting legal requirements to comply with environmental legislation mean it's increasingly important for operators to review their green efforts.
"Many consumers and businesses now opt for hotels and restaurants with good eco-credentials, so by building measures into your business plan you will reap the rewards of winning more customers and you'll comply with the law," she said.
By Emma White
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