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Small Businesses Serving Food Struggle To Face Environmental Responsibility

Small businesses are often unaware of their negative environmental impact. Individually, their impact is negligible, but collectively it’s significant.  

According to a recent study from Sheffield Business School at Sheffield Hallam University, efforts to engage small foodservice businesses in social responsibility are too often focused on environmental responsibility and rarely on the ethical aspects of the industry that matter to them.  

The research was based on interviews with 38 small foodservice businesses located in Sheffield, UK. It found that the small foodservice businesses were more likely to prioritise their employees over other elements, such as environmental concerns, as employees are a crucial part of the service experience. 

Therefore, to engage these businesses, small business social responsibility (SBSR) should focus on getting employees interested in social responsibility. To do this, the research found that rather than targeting environmental aspects, SBSR actions should instead focus on the parts of social responsibility that matter to employees: the organisation’s ethics, pay and employee retention.  

Professor Alisha Ali at Sheffield Business School said: “Policymakers should avoid the corporate social responsibility (CSR) terminology in being more mindful of the realities of small businesses.   

“Industry associations should use these insights to inform their CSR trainings to small business owners, particularly the need for prioritizing ethics of care in relationships with employees.” 

Small UK businesses generate up to 70% of local pollution levels, 60% of commercial waste and half of all UK business greenhouse gas emissions. This is often because they don’t think about their small business social responsibility (SBSR) beyond food waste and recycling. It is therefore critical that changes are made.