The European Commission has published an extensive survey – the first of its kind - to understand the views and attitudes of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) towards resource efficiency and green markets. The report addresses three core themes: resource efficiency, green markets and green jobs.
Greener economy – The contribution of SMEs is essential
SMEs contribute roughly 64% of the industrial pollution in Europe and they find it more difficult to comply with environmental legislation than large companies. Up to 24% of SMEs actively engage in actions to reduce their environmental impact (mainly by reducing their energy consumption). Lack of expertise, lengthy approval procedures for new products and lack of consumer demand are the main obstacles that prevent SMEs from entering green markets.
There are 23 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union, representing 99% of all businesses and providing around 90 million jobs in the single market. SMEs are the backbone of the European economy and their contribution is essential for pursuing the goals of ‘Europe 2020’, the EU's strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Green products and services
Green products and services are those with a predominant function of reducing environmental risk and minimising pollution and resources. For this survey, products with environmental features (eco-designed, eco-labelled, organically produced, and with an important recycled content) were also included.
According to the definition used in this Eurobarometer, green jobs are either:
jobs related to the production of goods or to the provision of services that benefit the environment or optimise the use of natural resources; or
jobs whose characteristics involve use of practices and processes which either more environmental friendly or use fewer natural resources than today.
As a result, the total amount of green jobs measured by this Eurobarometer is linked both to resource-efficiency processes and to the production of green products and services. Examples include a chemical technician testing air samples for pollution emissions levels of the production process, a worker contributing to the production of systems that reduce water pollution emissions, an operator of renewable energy equipment to produce electricity for use within the company