Over two-thirds (68.4%) of Canadian businesses or organizations across the economy had at least one environmental or green practice in place in the third quarter of 2023, according to the latest data from the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions.
Reducing waste was the most common practice, reported by nearly half (48.8%) of all businesses or organizations. About one in three were reducing energy or water consumption (34.9%) or encouraging employees to adopt environmentally friendly practices (37.5%).
Roughly one in five (21.4%) businesses or organizations were using recycled or waste materials as inputs, while 15.0% implemented green processes, and 12.4% were choosing suppliers based on their environmentally friendly practices or products.
Differences by sector
Some environmental practices differed significantly by sector, in part because of the nature of the work in each.
Businesses in accommodation and food services (63.3%) and those in retail trade (61.1%) were more likely to reduce waste, compared with those in real estate and rental and leasing (29.8%), and transportation and warehousing (30.5%).
However, close to 1 in 10 (9.6%) transportation and warehousing businesses had a zero-waste practice, highest among all sectors and more than double the national average (4.4%).
About one in five (21.0%) businesses in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting were using one or more clean energy sources, and nearly one in four of them (24.3%) were performing carbon sequestration activities—both higher than the national averages for each (10.3% and 3.8%, respectively).
Businesses in that sector were also the likeliest to implement green processes (27.0%), followed by accommodation and food services (22.9%), and manufacturing (20.1%).
Conversely, nearly one in three (32.4%) manufacturing businesses were using recycled or waste materials as inputs, and nearly half (48.6%) were reducing energy or water consumption, leading all sectors in both practices.
Cost to clients, financial resources are top barriers to future plans
With some differences among sectors, nearly two-thirds (65.6%) of all businesses and organizations did not plan to implement environmental practices over the next 12 months. This could partially be because of plans already being in place.
Among barriers businesses or organizations may face in adopting greener practices over the next 12 months, nearly one-third of them reported that clients were not willing to pay a higher price (32.7%). Proportions were higher for businesses in manufacturing (50.7%), wholesale trade (44.9%), and transportation and warehousing (44.8%).
A lack of financial resources was reported as a barrier by nearly one-third (31.5%) of all businesses and organizations. This proportion was highest for those in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (46.0%) and lowest for those in finance and insurance (16.2%).
Time constraints or labour limitations were reported as a barrier by over one in five businesses and organizations (22.1%), while 15.1% had industry limitations when adopting green practices.
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