Research also indicated larger businesses were more likely to operate sustainably because they had the resources, time and money to implement environmental initiatives.
The Ideas Shop Sustainable Business Practices Survey, completed in association with BDO Spicers, showed a third of 400 SMEs surveyed considered sustainable practices were important to them, if not formally documented.
Respondents were asked about environmental practices like sorting waste, flexible working practices, and community practices such as pro-bono work or donations.
“The research suggests for the first time a link between SME growth and sustainable business practices,” said Ideas Shop partner Dan Ormond.
Ten percent of respondents said they had a formal reporting system for measuring their sustainability practices, while 15% said sustainable business practices were not relevant to their business.
Ninety five percent reported undertaking at least one of seven environmental measures (from sorting waste to offsetting carbon emissions), and 93% undertook at least one charitable activity.
Many small and medium sized businesses across New Zealand had flexible employment practises, with at least half offering staff at least one option for working flexibly (ranging from working from home to part-time work during school holidays).
Time and money were seen as the greatest barriers to businesses operating sustainably.