Research: companies in Lithuania perceive sustainability differently than in other Baltic countries. Rising costs are the biggest challenge in measuring results

Companies operating in Lithuania have a different perception of sustainability than companies in Latvia and Estonia. However, the measures they are taking to reduce emissions are similar across the three Baltic countries, according to a Kantar study commissioned by Neste, the largest producer of diesel from renewable raw materials. The main reasons for hesitation in all countries are a low motivation for high investments. However, the vast majority of respondents acknowledged that the demand for sustainable companies and, therefore, products will grow in the future.

Jone Sestakauskaite, Head of Sustainable Partnerships for the Baltics at Neste.
Jone Sestakauskaite, Head of Sustainable Partnerships for the Baltics at Neste.
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Mar 25, 2023, 5:42 PM

The survey reveals the attitudes of Baltic businesses with specific sustainability goals and working in this direction towards the potential of environmentally friendly operations.

Perceptions of sustainability: from economically stable operations to environmental protection

The study highlights the different perceptions of sustainability among the Baltic States. For companies operating in Estonia and Latvia, it is most often associated with financially stable operations, with 51% of Estonians and 37% of Latvians indicating this. In Lithuania, meanwhile, just over a sixth of respondents (15.9%) indicated this answer.

Environmental protection is also closely linked to sustainability for the businesses that took part in the survey. It is the most popular answer among Lithuanians (23.5%), while it is less popular among Estonians (13.7%) and Latvians (12.8%). Unlike in the other Baltic countries, in Lithuania, almost a quarter of respondents (24.6%) indicated that sustainability means renewable raw materials. This answer was less popular in Latvia and Estonia, at 12.4% and 5.2%, respectively.

„We see that the importance of sustainability in the Baltic States is steadily growing. Time will undoubtedly tell how the perception of sustainability itself will change and what real impact it will have on business processes, but it seems that over time it will be integrated more and more broadly – to include environmental protection, social responsibility, financial stability and other areas,“ says Jone Sestakauskaite, Head of Sustainable Partnerships for the Baltics at Neste.

Companies cited values and viable business opportunities as the main reasons for pursuing sustainability goals. Values were the most frequently cited reason by Lithuanian companies (35.1%), with Estonia (24.8%) and Latvia (22%) citing it less frequently.

Business opportunities created by sustainability were cited as an important reason by almost a fifth of Latvian companies, 16.2% of Estonian and 14.9% of Lithuanian companies. The fight against climate change was the third most popular reason for companies to pursue sustainability goals and was most frequently cited by Estonian (19%) and Lithuanian (18.9%) businesses.

Challenges are economic

Businesses operating in the Baltic States identified the economic aspect as the biggest challenge to sustainability – the additional cost of more expensive raw materials and the corresponding increase in the price of final products and services. Another major challenge identified by respondents was the evaluation of the sustainability actions taken and their results.

Almost one in two Lithuanian companies in the survey see the achievement of sustainability objectives as a major challenge. Companies in Latvia and Estonia are slightly more positive, although around a third of respondents in these countries reported that the task is „difficult“.

Solutions include route optimisation, a more moderate focus on electrification

According to the survey, in all Baltic countries, businesses are becoming more sustainable by saving energy and fuel costs, optimising routes, and reducing or eliminating paper consumption. Investing in employees and recycling waste were also highlighted as key actions.

Electrification of the transport fleet was mentioned much less frequently (32% of respondents) than route optimisation (68.9%) among the actions taken by companies to reduce emissions.

When looking at the future potential of sustainable enterprises, 75% of respondents predicted that the need for sustainable enterprises will grow in the future.

According to Neste, the growing demand is influenced by both the increasing stringency of EU directives and the growing awareness of the population and business.

„These reasons are leading more and more companies to integrate sustainable solutions into their operations. With these trends, we will likely see an increase in the number of sustainable businesses over the next few years in response to changing consumer expectations, the business environment and the long-term value of these investments,“ says Sestakauskaite.

The study will take place between 29 November and 16 December 2022. The research company Kantar carried out the study on behalf of Neste. It surveyed 773 businesses from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

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