Skip to content
News / September 22, 2009

Environmental efforts put dentists in the lead

by Guy Hiscott

With an impressive 67% taking steps to reduce their environmental harm, small healthcare businesses in Northern Ireland are ahead of the pack.

The biennial SME-nvironment survey by environmental guidance website reveals that small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in healthcare are also leading the field in making energy and water efficiency improvements – a measure taken by 37% of those surveyed.

Forty-nine per cent have cut down on their business waste and 87% recycle it. These figures indicate that the healthcare sector is taking massive strides to reduce its environmental impact. 
However, the recession seems to be taking its toll on healthcare businesses’ green efforts, with just one in four planning to invest in improving their environmental performance over the next year.

NetRegs’ study of 7,000 SMEs found that just 22% in healthcare have an environmental policy. Seventy-nine per cent of those questioned claimed that an EMS or environmental policy is ‘of no use’ to their business, despite evidence that this reduces operating costs and improves customer relationships. 

Worryingly, less than half (43%) of respondents from the healthcare sector are aware of the hazardous or special waste regulations, applicable to all in the sector.

Debbie Chatting, marketing strategy manager at NetRegs, commented: ‘It’s good to see improvement in the healthcare sector’s green business activities, but efforts are clearly starting to fall back in many areas.  Our survey has unearthed a level of denial among some businesses that still don’t acknowledge the harm that they can do to the environment nor recognise the business opportunity it presents to them.’

NetRegs is now campaigning for all businesses to nominate a ‘Green Ambassador’ responsible for reducing the firm’s effect on the environment. 

Debbie Chatting explains: ‘Many companies in the supply chain now include specific environmental questions in their tender forms, so by building measures into your business plan, training your staff and taking an environmentally responsible stance throughout your business, you will reap the rewards of having more customers. And you’ll comply with the law.
She continues: ‘NetRegs has developed a simple online self-assessment checklist [at] that is free and can help identify green measures that will save most businesses real cash. Environment, profit and staff motivation go hand in hand.’