8 in 10 businesses are improving sustainability

Men install solar panels on a roof
The majority (79 percent) of businesses have implemented measures this year to make their operations more sustainable. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the basis of the monthly Business Survey Netherlands (COEN) held at the beginning of September 2022.

The survey was conducted among businesses in manufacturing, in automotive and retail trade and in services. Nearly 39 percent of the companies said they had taken a combination of measures relating to energy, emissions or the circular economy. Close to 20 percent have mainly improved sustainability in the field of energy. Measures relating to the circular economy (14 percent) and emissions (6 percent) are cited less frequently. Twenty-one percent of the companies have not made their operations more sustainable this year.

Businesses active in transportation and storage and in renting/leasing and other business services are more likely to indicate that they are working on their emissions this year compared to the other sectors. For businesses in real estate activities and in culture, sports and recreation, this applies to energy measures. In accommodation and food services, circular measures have been more important.

Measures to improve corporate sustainability compared to the previous year, 2022
bedrijfstakken (SBI2008)None (% of businesses)Mainly in energy (% of businesses)Mainly in emissions (% of businesses)Mainly environmentally conscious handling of raw materials and waste (% of businesses)Combination of the above (% of businesses)Other measures (% of businesses)
Total (manufacturing, automotive and
retail trade, services)
Transportation and storage14.516.914.36.847.20.3
Retail trade and automotive sector14.723.21.814.845.20.2
Real estate activities20.332.83.66.836.50
Culture, sports and recreation24.132.82.511.828.50.2
Accommodation and food services2722.60.821.427.50.8
Information and communication27.514.1510.642.60.2
Renting/leasing and other business services27.813.815.215.8261.4
Specialised business services30.315.1510.537.51.7
Other services32.3216.612.326.51.3

Dependence on third parties may hinder sustainability

For almost a quarter of entrepreneurs, dependence on third parties is the main obstacle to making operations more sustainable. Nearly 13 percent report a lack of financial resources as the main obstacle. For an almost equally large group (12 percent), sustainability has too few benefits. On the other hand, more than 3 in 10 businesses experience no obstacles in their sustainability efforts.

Businesses in accommodation and food services and in culture, sports and recreation are more likely than other sectors to cite a lack of financial resources as the main obstacle. Companies active in transportation and storage and in real estate activities mention dependence on third parties more frequently as the main barrier.

Main obstacles to corporate sustainability improvement, 2022
;Wij ervaren geen belemmeringen;We weten niet hoe we (nog meer) kunnen verduurzamen;Tekort aan financiële middelen;Tekort aan personeel binnen ons bedrijf om het te realiseren;Afhankelijkheid van derden;Het levert ons te weinig voordeel op (bijv. competitief of financieel);Do not experience any obstacles (% of enterprises)Do not know how to make operations (more) sustainable (% of enterprises)Lack financial resources (% of enterprises)Lack staff to realise sustainability goals (% of enterprises)Depend on third parties (% of enterprises)Not enough benefits (e.g. competitively, financially) (% of enterprises)Other (% of enterprises)
Total (manufacturing, automotive and
retail trade, services)
Accommodation and food services17.19.923.711.32310.84.1
Culture, sports and recreation18.56.229.810.
Transportation and storage28.22.614.33.934.210.16.6
Real estate activities28.
Other services33.511.810.19.523.39.72.2
Renting/leasing and other business services34.97.966.224.7164.3
Retail trade and automotive sector35.24.911.84.826.713.43.1
Specialised business services40.
Information and communication41107.42.721.89.87.2

A third consider operations largely or entirely sustainable

One third of the companies see their operations as largely or completely sustainable. Nearly half say their business operates partially sustainable and 15 percent think their business is sustainable to a small degree. The results do not imply that all economic activities are equally sustainable. For example, companies are more likely to compare their performance to standards, peer companies or sustainability opportunities within their sector than to compare themselves to (more sustainable) other sectors.

Opinion on sustainability of own operations, 2022
bedrijfstakken (SBI2008)(Almost) entirely sustainable (% of enterprises)Sustainable to a large degree (% of enterprises)Sustainable neither to a large nor to a small degree (% of enterprises)Sustainable to a small degree (% of enterprises)Hardly or not at all sustainable (% of enterprises)
Total (manufacturing, automotive and
retail trade, services)
Information and communication6.733.545.611.03.1
Retail trade and automotive sector4.634.646.312.91.7
Real estate activities1.336.955.85.00.9
Specialised business services3.233.247.513.23.0
Other services2.333.649.111.63.5
Renting/leasing and other business services2.329.549.214.05.0
Transportation and storage6.
Accommodation and food services4.020.347.824.63.2
Culture, sports and recreation2.316.