Small Business – Benefiting Our Environment

Filed under: Opinion |

Small businesses help protect the environment by being active in their communities. These businesses know their neighbors hold them accountable for keeping the community clean and healthy. A small business that harms the local environment is not likely to be successful in the long run. Increasingly, small firms are being recognized as good environmental stewards. In the past four years, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency has recognized over 150 small businesses in its Protection Track Program who excel at managing their environmental responsibilities.

In addition, small businesses protect the environment through innovation. Advocacy’s economic research indicates that small businesses innovate at twice the rate of large businesses. Their innovative practices often yield environmentally friendly products and technologies. A growing number of these companies, nicknamed “green gazelles,” are creating products that are both efficient and environmentally sound. Some examples of their innovative products can be found as www.greengazelles.org.

Advocacy’s economic research shows that the majority of home-based businesses are sales and service-oriented, with little potential for environmental harm. Small businesses rely increasingly on computers and the Internet to reach their markets.

Now here is an interesting twist. Small businesses can help the environment just by persuading government agencies to pause and think about the unintended consequences of new rules. Recently, Advocacy reviewed a proposed rule that would have required plywood plants to install costly incinerators to burn off tiny amounts of air pollutants, even where the plant could show that their would be no impact on its neighbors. It was a clear case of the government imposing unnecessary costs without achieving any meaningful environmental benefit. In the end the rule would have actually increased air pollution by adding thousands of tons of pollutants from the incinerator unit. With Advocacy’s help, small business representatives were able to persuade EPA to allow plywood plants that can show their emissions pose no health risk to avoid having to install costly – and polluting – incinerators. This is a win-win situation for small business and the environment.

(Created by Congress in 1976, the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent voice for small business within the federal government. Appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the Chief Counsel for Advocacy directs the office. The Chief Counsel advances the views, concerns, and interests of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts, and state policy makers. Economic research, policy analyses, and small business outreach help identify issues of concern. Regional Advocates and an office in Washington, DC, support the Chief Counsel’s efforts. For more information on the Office of Advocacy, visit www.sba.gov/advo, or call (202) 205-6533.)