Small businesses in the West Midlands are ignoring the green credentials of suppliers, it has been claimed.
Research by BT Business could not find a single small business in the region that took the environmental values of suppliers into account, even though one in five said customers asked them about it.
The research came as multiple initiatives were launched to persuade small businesses to improve their environmental record.
Last week the Prince of Wales and Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged business leaders to do more to put sustainability at the heart of how they work.
Speaking to chief executives, Prince Charles said there was "no time to lose" developing business models to combat global warming while Mr Brown called for a "fourth technological revolution" to transform the way people lived.
Charles announced the establishment of an initiative to explore the challenges small businesses are facing around requests for proof of environmental and social credentials as part of procurement.
The Supplier Support & Information Initiative will be led by the University of Cambridge Programme for Industry and Business in the Community.
The aim is to see how small businesses supplying the private and public sectors can become more green while staying competitive.
It has set up a working partnership, led by Lloyds TSB.
Paul Turner, head of sustainable development at Lloyds TSB, said: "As a result of increasing regulation, consumer concerns about the environmental and social footprint of products and services, there is a clear case for large corporations to work together in helping suppliers provide the information they need to respond to demands."
David Grayson, chairman of the Small Business Consortium, added: "It is really important small businesses have the opportunity to identify what help is needed and how it could be most effectively provided, to make it as easy as possible for smaller firms to meet more stringent environmental and social standards being set by larger organisations."
This week the Small Business Consortium launched a website to help businesses calculate and improve their environmental footprint.
The website, www.smallbusinessjourney. com, offers advice, with details of the latest green policies.
Mr Grayson added: "As small businesses account for over half of the UK workforce it is crucial they have the right resources to help them tackle climate change.
"However, the bottom line is always a top priority and a key objective is to help business owners wake up to the wider benefits of implementing responsible practices, such as staff retention, positive publicity and reduced overheads. This way they can reduce their carbon footprint, as they continue to grow business."
The Federation of Small Businesses said research showed most SMEs were concerned about their environmental impact, but many had other pressing concerns.
A report found 92 per cent of business owners felt they operated a socially and environmentally responsible company, with more than three quarters saying there were strong business, as well as personal reasons, for their green commitment.
But Denise Craig, regional policy development officer for the Federation of Small Businesses, said there were many considerations for small businesses, and only a finite amount of time and resources.
She added: "Checking out the green credentials of suppliers may not rank as high as other priorities."