Are small businesses greener and wiser than the government?

The Carbon Reduction Commitment – a mandatory carbon trading scheme for large companies – comes into force today, and smaller companies fear that similar tough measures will be forced upon them in the future, says the Federation of Small Business.

Small companies believe that energy efficiency can help them cut costs and many have already taken green issues on board. More than half (57%) have changed the way they operate because they’re concerned about climate change. Just under half (47%) have recycled waste and a third (32%) have cut energy use, according to a survey of 10,000 members of the FSB.

But the government needs to offer proactive advice and incentives to help them move to low carbon operations, says the FSB. It’s called for several measures, including extending the scope of the Carbon Trust loans programme for SMEs and an effective rollout of smart meters to meet the needs of small business.

But is the government the best place to go for advice on energy savings? The National Audit Office has just reported that between 2005 and 2008, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spent £240m on the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste programme, now defunct.

Waste sent to landfill fell by 22%, but because Defra didn’t actually set any ‘specific, quantified targets… and it doesn’t have any up to date information on how much business waste there is, or how much is being recycled’, the NAO isn’t sure if the £240m ‘represents value for money’. Perhaps small businesses are the right people to ask for proposals o

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