A review of interventions to encourage SMEs to make environmental improvements
"The definitive, peer-reviewed and edited version of this article is published in Environment and Planning C, 27, 2, 279-301, 2009, doi:10.1068/c0859b”
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are an important part of the world economy but they are thought to be responsible for around 60% of all carbon dioxide emissions and 70% of all pollution. SMEs often have major problems with limited resources, limited knowledge and limited technical capabilities to deal with their own negative environmental impact. SMEs exhibit widely differing characteristics and commitment where environmental issues are concerned. Yet under these conditions they are all expected to engage in environmental improvement. Interventions that encourage environmental improvement are often polarised between regulation and legislation at one extreme and voluntary environmental agreement at the other. It is clear that a holistic mixture of interventions is necessary to achieve maximum engagement and environmental improvement by all SMEs. This paper categorises the different levels of environmental commitment observed in SMEs and develops a selection or ‘tool kit’ of intervention strategies that might be deployed within each category of SME.