SCOTLAND’S small businesses are set to reduce their carbon footprint with the launch of a new cashback scheme.

Launched by the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland, the plan will allow eligible small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to save up to £8000 a year by receiving 30 per cent cashback on the value of an interest-free Government loan.

Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, announced the cashback incentive yesterday during a visit to Goldenacre Mini Market in Edinburgh. The convenience store is one of more than 300 businesses in Scotland to have benefitted from an SME loan in the past five years.

The SME loan scheme has seen nearly £10 million invested in the Scottish small business community since 2013.

Wheelhouse said: “Improving energy efficiency is one of the smartest ways that businesses in Scotland can hold onto their hard-earned profits and make a real difference to the bottom line.

“In addition to benefits for individual businesses, reducing the environmental impact of Scotland’s energy needs will bring us closer to the low carbon energy future set out in Scotland’s Energy Strategy – generating benefits for Scotland’s economy as well as the environment.

“This fund is part of Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme, which will support buildings across Scotland – both domestic and non-domestic – to improve their energy efficiency rating over a 15-20 year period.”

The SME loan 30 per cent cashback incentive is open to applications from SMEs with energy efficiency projects that demonstrate cost and carbon savings. These include: investing in LED lighting, installing more efficient heating systems and improving the insulation of a building or investing in more energy efficient equipment, such as a state of the art oven or a more efficient refrigeration unit.

Eligible applicants will receive a dedicated advisor from Zero Waste Scotland’s Resource Efficient Scotland service, which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, to guide them through the process at no cost.

Iain Gulland of Zero Waste Scotland said: “Our work with small businesses in Scotland tells us that companies want to do their bit for the environment – indeed, our advisors have already supported organisations in Scotland to identify over £42m worth of savings.

“We understand that with small businesses, the need to see fast return on investment and the time needed to complete lengthy application processes can preclude positive action. That’s why the SME Loan and associated support is designed with busy Scottish SMEs in mind – and with up to £10,000 cashback now available there’s even more reason to act and secure a more sustainable, cost-effective future for your business.”

Aleem Farooqi runs the Goldenacre Mini Market on Edinburgh’s Inverleith Row. His SME Loan in 2016, to upgrade the store’s lighting and refrigeration, has generated annual electricity savings worth almost £1800.

Farooqi said: “Keeping my energy bills to a minimum while also ensuring an excellent customer experience is paramount. I would recommend the SME Loan to any small business owner – and with an additional cashback element now available it’s a great opportunity for retailers to invest in the future

of their business.”