When it comes to reducing CO2 emissions, the UK automotive industry has a track record of which it can be justifiably proud. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ (SMMT) annual Sustainability Report, ongoing investment, increased efficiency and continual refinement of manufacturing processes has made it the most efficient in Europe – outperforming the EU average for energy consumption, CO2 emissions and water consumption.
Over the past two decades average emissions per vehicle coming off the production line in the UK have reduced by 31%, energy used by 43% and water use by 15%. Even more impressive, waste going into landfill resulting from the manufacturing process has reduced by 95.4%.
Meanwhile, out on the highways and byways, there’s still a battle to be won. Alongside the target on vehicle engine emissions, the Government is now turning its attention to the pollution caused by tyre wear and brake dust.
The micro plastics used in tyre manufacture – known as PM2.5S – can cause respiratory disease. The particles are so tiny (about 5% the width of a human hair) they by-pass the nose and throat, penetrating deep into the lungs. It’s reckoned that over the next decade, as electric vehicles take over from petrol fuelled vehicles, PM2.5s will be responsible for 90% of harmful traffic emissions.
Which is where a new Clean Air Strategy from the Department of Health, Public Health England and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) comes in. It sets out Government intentions to “research and develop new standards for tyres and brakes to enable us to address toxic non-exhaust emissions of micro plastics from vehicles which can pollute air and water.”