SMEs closing the sustainability gap

More than half of Europe’s SMEs are not capitalising on eco-efficiency

SMEs closing the sustainability gap

New research shows that while many companies are benefiting from a more sustainable approach to printing, European SMEs are missing out on the opportunities.


“According to the European Commission, addressing IT could cut economy-wide carbon emissions up to 15% by 2020, primarily through improved monitoring and management of energy use”. <sup>1</sup>

SMEs form the backbone of most economies throughout Europe, but unlike larger companies, they have been slow to embrace environmental measures that, on a day-to-day basis, can yield impressive results in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the bottom line. According to new research carried out by Quocirca on behalf of global technology company, Epson, just a third of SMEs view environmental issues as important, compared to 74% of large enterprises.<sup>1</sup> While 50% of larger enterprises agree that sustainability is a worthwhile cost (even if it costs more) just 18% of SMEs agree, preferring to look for measures that provide quick payback and low upfront costs.<sup>1</sup>

Additionally, just 42% of SMEs are addressing workplace energy efficiency (compared to 77% of large enterprises).<sup>1</sup> SME’s are focussing more on “traditional” green activities such as paper recycling or new energy-saving light bulbs; however they are missing out on environmental and CSR benefits, as well as financial gains, as they are not embedding simple eco-efficient printing practices into their business operations.

By adopting sustainable measures such as tailored print strategies (for example, Managed Print Services (MPS) like Epson’s Print 365 that offers print packages tailored to specific business needs), SMEs can gain a more detailed understanding, and better control of resources and expenses, such as energy, paper, and consumables. This gives them the ability to reduce waste and improve efficiency, and ultimately eliminate unnecessary costs. At a time when energy prices are rising, and regulatory requirements and pressure to be an eco-conscious company in society are mounting, sustainability is becoming a core part of the corporate agenda – with specific focus on IT infrastructure.

For SMEs, however, lack of resources – specifically, time, finances, and expertise – are a major hurdle. The research found that just 9% of SMEs have a specific sustainability-focussed human resource compared to 57% of large enterprises, and this has a direct impact on their understanding of the tangible and financial benefits of sustainability strategies.<sup>1</sup>

Although there is still substantial room for improvement and despite perceived hurdles, with the right strategy, tools and support – for example, from industry partners – SMEs can start to address the sustainability challenge as successfully as larger organisations.

For more information on Epson's managed Print Service, Print 365, visit:

<sup>1</sup>Quocirca research commissioned by Epson, SMEs: Closing the Sustainability Gap, September 2016