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Clean vehicles 'not enough' to meet Kyoto targets

A major study published today reveals that vehicle use accounts for 98% of the emissions and waste generated by the UK motor industry.

The research was commissioned by Viridis, with contributions from the FIA Foundation and a grant from Biffaward, a multi-million pound environment fund which utilises landfill tax credits donated by Biffa Waste Services.

For the first time a comprehensive study of the material resource flows in the motor industry has been carried out from manufacture through vehicle use, to the final disposal of end of life vehicles. The study identified and quantified the natural resources used and the wastes and emissions produced by the motor industry in the UK during the year 2000.

The main findings were:

  • Seven million tonnes of waste were produced, including waste from production, maintenance activities and end of life vehicle arisings. This is equivalent to each person in the UK annually producing 120 kilograms of waste. This equates to an extra 20% of waste produced by each person over and above the total produced as household waste in the UK.

  • Emissions to the air totalled just over 122 million tonnes, over two tonnes for each person in the UK. 120 million tonnes was from vehicle use alone, which is responsible for 23% of the total UK output of the air emissions quantified.

  • A total of 7 million tonnes of resources were used in the production of new motor vehicles and components, of which 5 million tonnes were incorporated into the production of new components and vehicles in the UK.

  • 41 million tonnes of oil equivalent is used each year in the running of vehicles and the manufacture of parts and vehicles. 96% of the energy consumption is by vehicles in use, car use accounting for 63% of this.

    The study also carried out an analysis of future trends and influences on the motor industry.

    Various scenarios were modelled including the effect of implementing low carbon vehicles, which found that low carbon vehicles alone will not bring transport emissions down to the levels expected under the Kyoto Protocol.

    Currently a number of legislative requirements facing the industry driven by the concept of "producer responsibility" will require an industry level approach and a greater degree of collaborative activity than has been the case to date.

    This project forms part of the Biffaward Mass Balance Programme. The aim of the programme is to provide accessible, well-researched information about the flows of different resources through the UK economy based either singly, or on a combination of regions, material streams or industry sectors.

  • Free copies of the report, “Sustainable Resource Use in the Motor Industry: A Mass Balance Approach,” can be downloaded from the Viridis website
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