What is it about?

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are slow to address sustainability issues. This is mainly due to a lack of time (and/or money), not knowing what to do or where to get help. In fact, there is limited research in this area. This article describes the development of an online framework consisting of a set of SME-friendly tools that support manufacturing SMEs to manage environmental issues - from design to monitoring energy usage. While each online tool was approved by SME owner-managers, they were unlikely to use it voluntarily without the support of an advisor.

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Why is it important?

Businesses can play a significant role in addressing global environmental challenges and Sustainable Development Goals. Reports of corporate environmental damage usually features big brands, however, SMEs cumulatively contribute to 70% of all environmental damage in Europe. SMEs need supports to help them change. These supports need to work for them, and make sense for their business. This is a unique one-stop shop collection of tools to help drive this change.


This study presents a unique collection of tools and supports that are useful for manufacturing (and maybe other) SMEs to improve the sustainability of their business. The tools were designed to be self-led, simple and quick to use, with no expert knowledge needed. If the owner-manger is personally driven to be more sustainable, it is highly likely they would use it independently. However, most companies need further encouragement and support for them to address sustainability voluntarily.

Dr Sinéad Mitchell
National University of Ireland Galway

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Manufacturing SMEs doing it for themselves: developing, testing and piloting an online sustainability and eco-innovation toolkit for SMEs, International Journal of Sustainable Engineering, November 2019, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/19397038.2019.1685609.
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