EXCLUSIVE: Operators in the dark over equipment tax breaks

Gram Go Green Debate 2016

Foodservice operators are missing out on the chance to save significant costs through their failure to utilise government tax breaks on energy efficient catering equipment, new research suggests.

Some 74% of operators said they had no clue about current tax breaks available to them, even though it could lead to huge savings on capital costs and reduce operating expenditure in the longer term.

The figure was revealed during today’s Go Green Debate, organised by refrigeration manufacturer Gram in London.

Its research, unveiled to mark the launch of the 2016 Gram Green Paper, revealed that the number of operators aware about government tax incentives was actually four percentage points lower than it was when the research was last carried out two years ago.

Richard Webber, from Cambridge Direction, which compiled the study, said the results exposed a huge information gap.

“It shows that there should be more engagement,” he said. “There is a clear failing in the sense that the information isn’t getting out there to motivate people, even more so since operators are indicating that saving money is a key factor for them.”

Indeed, this year’s study was the first time that operators cited saving money as their biggest reason for going green. Previously, their desire to play a part in improving the environment had always come out on top.

Just 28% of the more than 800 operators sampled admitted to being aware of the Energy Technology List, the government-managed list of energy efficient products that qualify for full tax relief.

And only 24% confessed to having any understanding of the EU’s Ecodesign Directive. Mr Webber said this figure was particularly alarming given that the directive was the driving force behind new minimum energy performance standards and energy labelling requirements that came into force as recently as July.

“For an issue that has only just come up in the last few months, you would expect the awareness to be much higher. Something topical would normally come through,” he said.

42% of foodservice operators said they were willing to pay a higher initial investment price for lower running costs, while 57% of operators claimed they would be willing to wait more than 12 months to see ROI on a sustainable change that would involve some initial expenditure.

However, the research also revealed that some sectors of the market, particularly workplace catering, lose the appetite to become even greener once they have made a certain level of investment.

“There is a view that they perhaps don’t to want to be greener because of the perceived level of paperwork that comes with it. It is natural for people to say, ‘let’s not be greener, I am happy with what I am already doing. Anything more is just going to increase my workload’.”

Speaking at the summit this morning, Gram UK’s managing director, Glenn Roberts, said the company had encountered a “wall of indifference” when it first launched the Green Paper in 2008, but attitudes towards the topic sustainability have softened massively in the years since.

He said increasing numbers of operators were now making the link between sustainability and business performance. “The commercially adept ones understand that a lot of this drops down to the bottom line and it can therefore help to grow their business and profitability,” he said.

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