Since in the late 1980s, the business impacts on the environment have become an issue of increasing concern, particularly in developed countries (Gerrans and Hutchinson, 2000; Robbins, 2001). In Europe, environmental concern has been shared by environmental groups and legislators, customers, local communities, public authorities, suppliers, ﬁnancial institutions and employees (Bubna-Litic and De Leeuw, 1999; Deegan, 2007; Petts et al., 1998). Obviously, when ones talk about environmental issues, ones would imagine of impact of big businesses because of their sheer size, which easily visible. Due to various stakeholders’ pressures big businesses could not help but have to comply with environmental laws. However, relationship between small business and the environment are under research. It is easy to comprehend why it is the case as small businesses have very limited operations vis a vis their big business counterparts. Individually, small businesses have less impact to the environment, cumulatively, they contribute significantly to environmental degradations. Past research showed many small business owners believed that they have little impact on the environment (Lee, 2000; Rowe and Hollingsworth, 1996). Actually, their total negative impacts to the environment is too high, surpassing big organizations.
Environmental awareness can be defined as one of components in sustainable development in a country. The lack of environmental awareness among entrepreneurs may cause environmental problems because they do not know their business implications. A sustainable development is not going to be achieved unless small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are also environmentally responsible. In this regard, special attention should also be given to small businesses in order to address environmental degradation in the country. But, one must bear in mind that small businesses is not a little version of big business, in regard of their limitations in terms of resources –finance, human and technology (Tilley, 1999). They need different approaches according to their means in addressing the problems. Measuring environmental awareness amongst entrepreneurs, who run their organisation is a starting point to address environmental issues exacerbated by their activities. Since changing mindset begins with awareness of environmental issues, knowledge in environmental issues should be inculcate amongst small entrepreneurs.
Batik industry in Malaysia is dominated by the two in east coast states of Malaysia- Kelantan and Terengganu. It is classified as a cottage and handicraft industry because it involves the use of means, methods, and tools used are still traditional. Batik has now expanded beyond traditional domain, to go through the process of modernization concepts, techniques and philosophy of its own. Notwithstanding with the progress of the industry, but advancement in environmental management of the industry is too slow. In the batik making process, the effluents are often rich in color and organic pollutants which require a proper treatment before discharging into the environment. It is known that high demand for batik products will contribute to the production of more effluent with high COD value and creating it as one of the main sources of severe pollution in Malaysia.
Realizing environmental impacts of batik process, it is timely to arrest this problem that warrants green practices which are environmentally friendly. The implementation of green industry practices is deemed justified because in the long run it reduces negative impacts on the environment. The benefits for environmental aspects are: no dye spill and chemicals able to absorb directly into the ground or discharged into the public drain and river. Then, the benefits of safety and health are: avoid the workers from physically injured and decrease workers’ risk of disease such as cancer that caused by dyes and chemicals exposed. Greens batik has cost benefits like reduction in raw material costs through savings, cost reduction through water conservation, cost reduction through energy conservation (electric, firewood and gas) and reduction of costs for water treatment (Malaysian Department of Environment, 2013).
Amongst various cottage industries, batik industry is chosen as a case. There are a number of reasons. First, the said industry is responsible for water pollution and according to the latest report by department of the state of Kelantan compliant rate of the industry relatively low compared with other industries-65% (DOE Kelantan Report, 2011). This industry produces wastewater which contributes to water pollution since it utilizes a lot of chemicals. Wastewater from batik industry contains grease, wax, heavy metal suspended solids, and dyes (in painting and coloring processes)(McClatchy, 2011). Second, batik industry is a significant industry in Malaysia. It is a cottage industry which is largely run by Malay entrepreneurs, largely in the two Malay belts state of Kelantan and Terengganu. This industry not only provides income for entrepreneurs but at the same time employed thousands workforces in both downstream and upstream of the industry. The future of Malay craft relies on the survival of the very industry. So, it comes as no surprise to see why this industry has given more priority by government.