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Small businesses are 'going green': RBC survey

TORONTO, June 18, 2010—  Half of Canadian small business owners (52 per cent) currently have (46 per cent) or are considering (six per cent) implementing a green plan or environmental policies for their business, according to an RBC small business survey.

Small businesses that already have a plan or policies in place are more likely to concentrate on reducing energy (63 per cent), while those that are considering a green plan are more likely to focus the plan on environmental standards (31 per cent) and supply reduction (55 per cent).

"These results tell us that small business owners are making environmental sustainability a priority," said Mike Michell, national director, Small Business, RBC. "Implementing an environmental plan can have a positive effect on a company's bottom line by potentially reducing overall costs in the long term, and may increase their market advantage by appealing to environmentally-conscious consumers."

According to the survey, spending on existing environmental initiatives is low - 59 per cent of businesses with a green plan say that they have spent less than $500 on green initiatives in the past two years. However, as a business grows its revenue, the amount spent increases.

"Some small business owners think they have to spend a lot of money to implement these strategies, but that's not the case: you can start by taking small steps and then build from there," added Michell.

Directing funds toward green strategies can help some businesses capitalize on the green movement as a business opportunity. These changes can also have a direct impact on the development of environmental sustainability solutions that shape the emerging economy.

"Going green helps companies build goodwill with customers, employees, shareholders and the general public," said Jim Hart, national manager, Green Client Strategy, Business Financial Services, RBC. "We understand that taking the first step toward sustainability can be overwhelming for some businesses owners; but it's a step worth taking. The key is committing to act - and then beginning the journey."

To help small business clients develop and implement environmental sustainability practices, RBC created Greening your business: A guide to getting started which offers practical advice on creating the business case for going green, engaging stakeholders and creating a green plan. This and other helpful materials can be found online at the RBC advice centre: www.rbc.com/business-advice.

Regional poll highlights

  • Small business owners in Alberta that have a green plan or are considering a plan are more likely than business owners in other regions to include recycling as part of their going green strategy (94 per cent), but less likely to say any plans involve or will involve pollution prevention (15 per cent).

  • Small business owners in Atlantic Canada are more likely to incorporate environmental standards for goods and services purchased by the company (38 per cent) and are also more likely to include energy reduction strategies (75 per cent).

  • Small business owners in British Columbia rank highly, much like owners in other provinces, in their commitment to recycling (82 per cent) and reducing their energy use (60 per cent).

  • Small business owners in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are more likely to include pollution prevention practices (36 per cent) in their going green strategy.

  • Ontario's small business owners are more likely to produce and sell, or to plan to produce and sell, green products and services (26 per cent)).

  • Small business owners in Quebec are most likely (36 per cent) to reduce or plan to reduce water use or water pollution.

In an effort to help Canadian small business owners succeed, RBC recently launched a new online advice centre. The site provides free, professional advice and answers to common questions business owners have. It covers many facets of running a business, and includes interactive tools, calculators, videos, articles and tips. Visit www.rbcadvicecentre.com for more information.

These are some of the findings of RBC's Small Business poll conducted by Ipsos Reid between February 2 - 8, 2010. The survey tracks Canadian small business owners' attitudes and behaviours regarding environmental plans and strategies. It is based on online interviews with a random sample of 1,049 Canadian small business owners. All businesses had fewer than five employees, and annual revenues under $1 million. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of ±3.0 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire population of small business owners in Canada been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

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Media contacts:

Matt Gierasimczuk,
416-974-2124, matthew.gierasimczuk@rbc.com

Janet Gibson Eichner,
416-974-7622, janet.gibson-eichner@rbc.com