For modern societies to continue to sustain themselves there needs to be a dissociation between economic growth and environmental degradation or else economic growth will decline consistently together with deteriorating environmental and social health. Various sustainability methodologies can be applied to mitigate against environmental and social degradation. This includes cleaner production which is a proven sustainability methodology that is supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation and the United Nations Environmental Protection Agency in more than eighty countries worldwide.
However application of cleaner production practices amongst SMEs has been below expectations where such practices should have become the norm. We have surveyed SMEs in South Africa, where assessments have been carried out by the local National Cleaner Production Centre, to assess SMEs’ perceptions of a range of barrier typologies. Further the barrier methodologies were evaluated to determine whether social responsibility in itself creates a barrier for successful implementation of sustainable practices.
This research established that the barrier typologies are more equally balanced than findings in many developed regions. Furthermore, some barriers such as institutional challenges are not as prevalent compared to other developing regions. It was recognized that regulation can be used as an incentive that has an effect on two groupings or axis of barriers identified in this research. Lastly, it was reputed that structured and clear institutional support and strategies further provide enhanced frameworks that were more beneficial than solely focusing on economics for SMEs.