Big Business Refit offers SMEs �100m to replace inefficient machinery

"Make do and mend" could be costing British businesses £3 billion a year in wasted energy, according to the Carbon Trust. To help fix the problem, it is offering energy-saving advice and £100 million of interest-free loans under a scheme called the Big Business Refit.

The Carbon Trust added that it expects businesses to be able to repay the loans, which are government-funded, from the energy savings that will result from scrapping old power-guzzling equipment and replacing it with new equipment that is more efficient and cheaper to run.

However, it added that in a survey of 1571 UK SMEs carried out on its behalf last month, 46 per cent were unaware that they could cut energy costs by replacing old equipment. In addition, 41 per cent said that they accepted higher energy bills as a fixed cost that was preferable to paying the up-front cost of replacing old equipment.

One business that has already saved by scrapping its old equipment is Yorkshire-based flexible packaging printer, Roberts Mart & Co. Its sales director, Ben Roberts, said: "We've taken advantage of two Carbon Trust loans, totalling over £300,000, to replace printing press drying systems, a boiler and lighting.

"As a result, we're saving around £130,000 a year on our energy bills, plus around 900 tonnes of CO2. The Carbon Trust loans scheme has been a simple and effective way for us to modernise our business, and reduce costs in the recession."

The Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Mayor of London, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change have all pledged their support for the Big Business Refit.

The Carbon Trust said that its Energy Efficiency Loans are available to companies which have fewer than 250 employees and turn over less than 50m euro (around £42m), or which consuming less that 6GWh of half-hourly metered electricity. Businesses can borrow between £3,000 and £400,000, and there are no arrangement fees.

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