Small and midsized enterprises are placing greater emphasis on sustainability strategy in tandem with their accounting, according to a new report.
The research study, conducted by the American Institute of CPAs, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, highlighted examples of how small and midsized businesses are using sustainability practices in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada.
The AICPA, the CIMA and the CICA are members of the Prince of Wales’ Accounting for Sustainability Project, which is spearheaded by Prince Charles of Great Britain. Last year, in a joint survey, they found that one-third of smaller companies have a defined sustainability strategy, and another 23 percent intend to develop one in the next two years.
The new report focuses on nine case studies showing small companies in each of the three countries that are taking different approaches to sustainable practices. Vancouver-based restaurant chain and catering company Rocky Mountain Flatbread, for example, has committed itself to reducing waste, minimizing emissions and embedding itself in the community. Cirtonics, an employee-owned manufacturing company in Milford, N.H., participates in recycling, minimizes its energy usage and gives employees time off for volunteer efforts such as helping clear trash from the highway.
A Massachusetts paper coatings company, Ecological Fibers, committed itself to environmentally friendly manufacturing processes as it expanded to Rhode Island. “When our owner purchased the R.I. facility, every company in this industry was using solvents to coat paper,” said Ecological Fibers CFO Eric Buchholz, CPA, in the report. “They were harmful to the environment and to employees and possibly the end users. Ecological developed a water-based coating solution that uses no harmful components. He was more interested in protecting the environment and his employees than in saving money. The thrust of the company is the same now — we want to be ecologically sound.”
The study’s authors interviewed financial professionals at the companies to fund out about their sustainability practices.
“One of the lessons from the case studies is that finance professionals often play a key role in defining and guiding sustainability strategies, in part because they are used to navigating different parts of a business and keeping an eye on the big picture,” said AICPA senior vice president Sue Coffey in a statement. “It’s one more example of the value the finance function can bring to an organisation.”
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