• Environment
  • Vehicle recycling
  • European Fuel Quality Directive
  • Dealer Energy Efficiency

For many years vehicle manufacturers have been working to reduce the environmental impact of their products and manufacturing processes. Achieving the right balance of economic progress, environmental care and social responsibility is of vital importance.

In the last 15 years, the automotive industry has made huge strides to reduce the environmental impact of its products throughout the life cycle. Since 1999, improvements in production processes mean energy used to produce vehicles is down 19%, water use is has been cut by 35% and 91% less waste enters landfill sites. Average new car tailpipe CO2 emissions have also been slashed and are down 31% over 15 years ago.

Looking to the future, industry will continue to drive down emissions as technical progress and a collaborative government approach will help to move the UK towards a more sustainable and low carbon future.

There are several key environmental policies which will affect the UK automotive industry and more details can be found in SMMT’s Annual Automotive Sustainability Report.

The automobile is already one of the most effectively recovered and recycled consumer products, with its parts being used again in vehicles or for other purposes. The metals used in its manufacture are routinely recovered, reused and recycled to high levels. The challenge is to recover non-metallic parts to enable the very high levels required by law.

The End of Life Vehicle (ELV) Directive seeks to increase the level of reuse and recycling of vehicles, improve environmental standards at sites processing ELVs and limit the use of material harmful to the environment in new vehicles.

From 2015 the industry must ensure that 95% (up from 85% previously) of the vehicle by weight is re-used, recycled or recovered. The sector has been achieving the previous target but the new tougher limits have required considerable investment from both the vehicle manufacturers (VMs) and the recycling industry in new processes.

With the arrival of innovative new materials and powertrains, including lithium-ion batteries, the sector is developing processes to ensure the effective re-use, recycling and recovery of future vehicles and their components. Industry is also developing alternative uses – second life opportunities – for new battery types, including for energy storage for projects outside the auto sector, eg storing electricity from solar panels in the home.

When a vehicle reaches the end of its life it must be disposed of in an environmentally responsible way through an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF). Through the End of Life Vehicles (ELVs) Directive, VMs have an obligation to provide free take-back for cars and light commercial vehicles. VMs have partnered with companies such as Autogreen and Cartakeback that will not only collect vehicles that have reached the end of their usable life and issue the necessary Certificate of Destruction (CoD), but in some cases will pay the last owner for the vehicle. The vehicle can then be disposed of and parts re-used, recycled or used for energy recovery.

SMMT, on behalf of the industry, made an agreement with Autogreen to provide ELV producer responsibility for orphan vehicles – those brands that are no longer commercially active, eg where the original manufacturer or importer has ceased trading. To use this service please go to http://www.rewardingrecycling.co.uk/smmt. This means the entire car and LCV parc is covered by the ELV Directive and consumers can easily dispose of their vehicles in a no-cost, safe and environmentally friendly manner.

The Fuel Quality Directive (2009/30/EC) enables the marketing of new fuels, in particular E10 unleaded petrol, which contains up to 10% ethanol. Fuel suppliers are not expected to market this fuel in the near future, however, in due course, E10 will be introduced and may become the main grade of unleaded petrol towards the latter half of the decade.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has published a list of vehicles compatible with E10 petrol (regularly updated) on its website. This applies to fuels meeting the current EN228:2008 specification only; if you would like any further information please contact your manufacturer.  A “protection grade” of unleaded fuel, which with no more than the current maximum 5% ethanol, will continue to be made available for vehicles that are incompatible with E10.

In due course, diesel will change to a mixture that contains up to 7% FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester), more commonly known as ‘B7’.

All gas oil for use in all non-road mobile machines (NRMM) – known as ‘Red Diesel’ – must contain no more than 10 milligrams of sulphur per kilogram of fuel. This is a reduction of 99% (from the current 1000 mg/kg limit) and brings the sulphur level in the NRMM fuel to the same low level as already exists in the (white) diesel used by road vehicles.

You can also download an SMMT briefing about the changes to specifications of Non-road Gas Oil (Red Diesel) for more detailed information.

Saving energy, saving money

SMMT, in association with the RMI and the Carbon Trust, has published the Dealer Energy Efficiency Guide providing expert advice on how best to reduce your energy use and improve your bottom line profits.

The automotive industry is committed to improving its environmental performance throughout the sector and will continue to support dealerships and their efforts to increase energy efficiency with zero or very low cost measures.

The average dealership could save up to £10,000 a year by cutting its energy use… and £4,000 of this could be saved without spending a penny.

SMMT has published a detailed Guide which provides steps on how best to take action to reduce energy use and improve business profits. Its findings are based on visits to a sample of dealerships across the UK, by a Carbon Trust-appointed consultant which found that significant savings could be made, often only resulting from small changes.

The survey revealed that savings of 25% are possible with modest undertakings. This is equivalent to £10,000, given the gas and electricity costs in an averaged-sized dealership, which is typically paying £40,000 per year. Energy savings of 10%, or £4,000, are possible from zero cost activities.

As energy costs are widely expected to increase over time, action now will deliver increased benefits in the future.

SMMT has also developed some guidance and tips for saving water and how best to dispose of waste. These follow many of the same basic principles of how to become energy efficient and suggest adopting a seven step action plan for change.

SMMT has summarised the key steps towards improving your environmental performance in the video below.

To download the full Guide, click here, or for a brief summary click here.