La French Fab: a greater environmental awareness

In France, SMEs and ETIs with fewer than 500 employees are exempt from the obligation to carry out a carbon assessment once every four years.

Managers of SMEs demonstrate greater environmental awareness

According to a 2023 survey by French public investment bank Bpifrance, 67% of SME and ETI (or intermediate-sized enterprise) managers surveyed stated that they take environmental issues into account, compared with 31% in 2020. Environmental awareness is gaining ground among La French Fab managers: 35% of these SMEs and ETIs completed a carbon assessment of their activities in 2022, compared with only 16% in 2020. Medium and intermediate-sized enterprises are responsible for approximately 30% of French carbon emissions.

In France, SMEs and ETIs with fewer than 500 employees are exempt from the obligation to carry out a carbon assessment once every four years. However, more than a third of SMEs completed such an assessment last year, according to the online survey to which 405 managers of SMEs with over 10 employees and ETIs responded, 39% of whom were involved in the industrial sector and 13% in the construction and public works sector.

Bpifrance helps SMEs and ETIs improve their carbon assessment

The approach is profitable for businesses supported by the French public investment bank, as this assessment has enabled them to make average savings of €45,000 (in terms of energy, processes, and optimization of the value chain). Bpifrance has coached over 1,000 businesses since 2017 and, at the end of 2020, described itself as the “Public Climate Bank”, putting €40 billion in green loans on the table for the period 2021-2024.

More broadly, this survey demonstrates a real change in mindset over the last five years, with widespread changes taking place in French businesses. 72% of business leaders declared that their carbon emissions have reduced over the last five years. This figure was only 46% in 2020. The most significant measures adopted are automatic switching off of lights (77%), waste sorting (68%) and purchasing more energy-efficient equipment (63%), as well as increasingly careful use of plastic and paper and, of course, a rise in remote working.

In spite of all these advances, we must continue to work towards carbon neutrality for French SMEs and ETIs by 2050. This is all the more the case given that there remain a number of administrative and statutory obstacles, and the return on investment is uncertain. For 70% of business directors that employ fewer than 500 employees, decarbonization represents a financial risk, with no guarantee that their clients will appreciate their efforts.

But the good news from this study is that 88% of managers surveyed believe they will be able to further reduce their carbon footprint over the next five years. The avenues explored include different choices of raw materials suppliers and greener transport, or ecodesign for products.

With Bpifrance, La French Fab is becoming greener!

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Ecological Transition


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