22% of French VSEs/SMEs have invested in line with environmental concerns (energy saving, recycling, etc.) in 2023. This figure takes on increased importance when we note that half of French small and medium-sized businesses have invested in 2023: and among them, 43% have made a green investment.
Of course, the environment is not the primary reason for business investment. It is still ahead of the renewal of equipment and modernization. But “it seems to become a structural factor of investment for SMEs/VSEs”, analyze Bpifrance and Rexecode, in their November SME/VSE Barometer. This rise in power is remarkable enough for the authors of the survey to devote a specific focus to it.
The trigger for the energy crisis
Unsurprisingly, the energy crisis played a triggering or accelerating role, according to almost half of the SME/VSE managers who have made green investments. But initially, the motivation is driven by the personal sensitivity of the business manager (36%), in view of image or cost reduction objectives. A strong argument was able to convince on these issues: half of the managers noted that their energy consumption had decreased for a given production thanks to energy efficiency measures.
No conflict with other investments
A revealing sign of the lasting installation of these environmental concerns in strategies is that for two thirds of SMEs/VSEs having made green investments, these did not come into conflict with other types of investments. 30% even indicate that all their investments now include environmental reasons. The main reason for not making green investments in 2023 is the absence of technological alternatives, given resource constraints (financial or time).
Carbon footprints lagging behind
For the year 2023, the three main objects of investment are the change of the lighting system (for 47% of companies), waste management systems (39%), and the company’s vehicle fleet (32 %). This should take first place on this list for the next three years, slightly ahead of employee training and carrying out a carbon footprint. For the latter, the work remains to be done: although nearly nine out of ten SMEs/VSEs (88%) know what a carbon footprint is, only 5% of companies have carried out one, according to this survey. A quarter of respondents who have not carried out a carbon assessment plan to do so soon.