According to the EU study, SMEs can struggle to see the positive benefits of CSR practices on costs, efficiency, or even revenue and market share. Companies can perceive environmental measures as draining profits. It is sometimes said that sustainability initiatives can be expensive in the short-term, requiring significant investments in technology, equipment, or personnel. This can put pressure on companies to prioritize short-term profitability over long-term sustainability. At the same time, some argue that achieving sustainability can include trade-offs between environmental, social, and economic goals. For example, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may result in higher energy costs for consumers, or efforts to protect biodiversity may limit access to natural resources for local communities.
However, well managed sustainable development aims at balancing economic, social, and environmental considerations, rather than promoting one at the expense of the others. Ultimately, pursuing sustainability is a matter of balancing short-term costs with long-term benefits and creating a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable future for all.
An example of cost savings, done as a result of implementing sustainability practices, is investment in energy efficiency infrastructure. By implementing energy efficient lighting systems, the consumption of electricity can decrease substantially. At the same time, the maintenance costs are economized too due to increased longevity of the equipment and less frequent need for replacement. In a similar way, other investments in energy-efficient processes and equipment can reduce the fuel and electricity bills, leading to the substantial cost savings. These cost savings can be redirected to other business activities, allowing the further company expansion. Finally, communicating about these practices – sustainability communication – can bring many additional benefits to this process, increasing the company’s visibility on the market and bringing attention of new customers.