They can reduce their costs, gain an edge in the marketplace, and access new markets.
'Creating the Enterprise Centre of Europe', published yesterday, identifies environmental issues as an important factor affecting business competitiveness. It outlines some of the challenges and opportunities environmental issues offer firms, and gives examples of firms where an improvement in performance has brought commercial benefits.
The White Paper also sets out ways in which the government is helping businesses, particularly small firms, to become more competitive by managing their environmental performance.
'Green business is good business. The White Paper puts environmental issues in the business mainstream. It recognises that companies which manage their impact on the environment effectively will be more competitive. Firms can respond to the environmental challenge as they would to any other - through positive management, innovation, good design, developing new products, and moving into new markets, particularly overseas.
'Good environmental management is good business sense. I am pleased that many companies have recognised this and started to improve their environmental performance voluntarily.
'But we want all firms to take advantage of these opportunities and become more competitive. The White Paper outlines practical advice and help we can offer, particularly to small and medium sized firms, on things that they can do which will increase profits and benefit the environment.
'We want to allow business to use its innovative skills to address environmental problems efficiently. The government is therefore committed to creating a flexible, regulatory frame work which stimulates innovation and allows business to develop and imaginative and cost effective response.
'Environmental policy is becoming more business-friendly through greater use of economic instruments, ongoing dialogue with business, and the establishment of a unified Environment Agency.
-- ANNEX A
OVERVIEW OF KEY DOE REFERENCES IN THE WHITE PAPER
LOCAL AUTHORITIES: The White Paper also highlights the role of Local Government in promoting competitiveness; in particular Chapter 13 on 'World Class Public Services' contains a two page feature on local authorities.
SINGLE REGENERATION BUDGET: The White Paper draws attention to the important role of the Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) Challenge Fund in supporting local regeneration and economic development. Challenge Fund projects involve successful partnership between local authorities, which lead over half the bids and are active in over 80%, and the private sector, which is expected to contribute around £5bn investment to Challenge Fund projects.