More than two-thirds of Scotland’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) want to improve their environmental impact, according to a survey by the Bank of Scotland.

Nearly one-quarter of business owners said they are primarily driven by the potential to save money long term,

while 20 per cent said they will rely on Government grants to make improvements.

Stuart Mackinnon, of the Scottish Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Scottish SMEs want to improve their sustainability but we also know governments across the UK are taking climate change very seriously and

there’s going to be a suite of measures implemented to reduce carbon footprints, many of which will have a big impact on small businesses.

“One of the biggest changes in Scotland over the next couple of years is the introduction of low emission

zones in cities and there are loans and grants available for businesses to upgrade their fleet.”

The research from the bank’s Business Barometer showed public demand and pressure from customers was the most common reason to focus on sustainability at 35%, while 72% said they have already taken steps to make their businesses more environmentally friendly.

More than one-quarter (28%) have made alterations to their premises to make them more energy efficient in

the last year, while one-fifth (22%) have bought low carbon vehicles for business use.

But a transition to greener options will not be straightforward for every small business in Scotland.

Mr Mackinnon said: “The big challenge is that every business is different and it will take the owners or managers to really look at how their business runs and consider opportunities to reduce waste.

“There’s often a big advantage in that

if they’re reducing energy bills then that will result in cash savings for them. It’s always going to be challenging though when your customer wants to do things as they’ve always done and you’re trying to change your business.”

The report found more than one-third (35%) of SMEs said they plan to use cash reserves to become more sustainable with a further 20% planning to rely on government subsidies.

A tenth (13%) said they had not made their businesses more sustainable in the last year due to cost implications.

Ayrshire recycling company Lowmac Waste & Recycling invested in a new sustainable processing plant with the support of a £1.8 million asset finance package from the Bank of Scotland.

Lowmac managingh director Kenny Smith said: “Thanks to this support from the bank, we’ve introduced green measures that reduce our carbon footprint and our overall impact on the environment.”

Fraser Sime, regional director for Scotland at Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking, said: “With sustainability high on the agenda for firms of every size, Scottish businesses understand there is often a financial benefit to making their operations greener.

“As ever, before making significant investments, businesses should consider all the available funding

options to decide which is most appropriate for them.

“When it comes to going green there are options, such as government grants and asset finance solutions, that help spread the cost of an investment over its lifetime, and initiatives such as our Clean Growth Finance Initiative, which offers discounted lending for green purposes.

“Regardless of motivation, we can be confident the impetus to introduce green measures isn’t going anywhere. Becoming more sustainable is a gradual process the UK business community must navigate together.”