SMALL firms are backing the Scottish government’s drive for a ‘zero waste’ society. But they’re worried about the cost of compliance.
The Forum of Private Business submitted evidence to a committee inquiry into the proposals which the Government claims could help SMEs cut costs and increase profits.
Nearly half of business owners on the forum’s Scotland member panel believe the scheme will have a minimal effect if adopted while 18% think it will have positive impact. Companies believe it will improve Scotland’s standing abroad and could lead to greater investment in recycling facilities.
The forum, which sits on Scotland’s independent Regulatory Review Group, supports the Government’s aims for better regulation and welcomed publication of the draft Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) as well as the decision to exempt small business from the food waste requirements until 2015.
However, the employer body is concerned that the BRIA has over-estimated the cost benefits for small businesses with forum members fearing the net cost might be greater than anticipated.
Despite the Government’s insistence that the scheme could mean bottom line savings, 24% of panel members said they are concerned about the costs that could be incurred, while 18% cited time issues, 13% additional red tape and 13% infrastructure problems.
Specific issues included the time and cost of having to use employees to sort the waste, that firms’ infrastructures will not able to support the scheme and that recycling could exclude key waste items such as cardboard or carpets.
Some of Scotland’s small businesses believe they are already effectively subsidising home owners for domestic recycling at a time they can least afford it, with the risk that cash-strapped councils will spend the cash on social policies.
“We found our Scottish members generally support the Government’s zero waste recycling policy and understand the reasons for its introduction, with many feeling businesses have been lagging behind households in this area for some time,” said the forum’s head of campaigns, Jane Bennett.
“A number of respondents feel that businesses are behind in terms of recycling and believe they had a duty to protect the environment, meaning they are generally willing to bear the associated costs of implementing the policy, although not everyone shares that sentiment. There are certainly some concerns about the impact of the policy, particularly in terms of time and cost when it comes to compliance.”
Previous research by the forum found 74% of Scottish members felt the time spent complying with regulations has increased during the past two years.