Filling stations begin to roll out new fuel labels

Filling stations begin to roll out new fuel labels

Posted by

Fiona Irving

June 2019

The Government has launched a new campaign to inform drivers of the biofuel content of petrol and diesel, to urge them to think more carefully about the environmental impact of their journeys and to help make them better-informed fuel choices.

Filling stations across the UK have begun to clearly identify the biofuel content of road fuel, with the use of uniform EU-wide labels which will also help prevent drivers from filling up with the wrong fuel abroad.

Unleaded petrol, which contains up to 5% renewable ethanol, will be labelled ‘E5’, while diesel, which contains up to 7% biodiesel, will be labelled as ‘B7’. The fuel will remain exactly the same as before.

For unleaded petrol, the E5 label will be in a circle denoting that it is petrol, while the E5 stands for up to 5% renewable ethanol. For diesel, the B7 is in a square, and B7 denotes up to 7% renewable biodiesel.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport (DfT) said that super unleaded petrol, which has an increased octane rating and additives to improve engine performance and lower consumption, would not be labelled.

The labels will be on fuel dispensers and nozzles at all petrol stations, and on all new vehicles. On new vehicles, drivers can then match the label on the pump with a label near the fuel cap.

As even greener fuels, such as E10 – a petrol grade with up to 10% renewable ethanol – come onto the market, the DfT says labels are set to have an increasingly important role to play in raising consumer awareness of alternatives to traditional fuel.

E10 petrol is widely available across Europe, the USA, Australia and many other parts of the world. Although not yet available in the UK, most vehicles produced since 2000 have been approved to run on E10 as well as E5 petrol and it is safe to put into cars with the E5 label.

The benefits of greener fuels

According to a new report from the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Bioethanol, introducing E10 here could help cut CO2 emissions in the short term without the need for widespread EV roll-out and without impacting fuel duty.

E10 petrol is said to offer a 2% improvement in CO2 emissions and the report sets out a number of findings, including that the fuel could assist in addressing the UK’s serious air quality problems in the short term. It adds that the deployment of E10 would save the equivalent emissions of taking up to 700,000 cars off the road.

Renewable fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol have been blended into UK petrol and diesel fuel for over 10 years. They reduce overall CO2 emissions by over 70% compared to fossil fuels and help the UK meet climate change targets.

The new labelling initiative is the latest step in the government’s drive to get consumers thinking more actively about the environmental impact of their transport choices and follows a commitment to end the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2040, as set out in the Government’s Road to Zero environmental strategy.

Michael Ellis, Transport Minister, said: “Drivers should be aware of the environmental impact of their travel choices, and seeing this when they are buying fuel can help remind them why decarbonising transport is so important.

“Biofuels are a key way of achieving the emissions reductions the UK needs, and their use reduced CO2 emissions by 2.7 million tonnes last year alone – the equivalent of taking around 1.2 million cars off the road.

“Our new campaign will help drivers understand the role of biofuels, while also choosing the right fuel for their vehicle at home and abroad,” he said.

Biofuel’s crucial role

Biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% compared to fossil fuels, and the campaign is set to highlight the crucial role that they will play during the transition to electric vehicles. Last year, 1.6 billion litres of renewable transport fuels were supplied in the UK.

Erik Rietkirk, CEO of Argent Energy, the UK’s premier biodiesel producer, said: “These labels are crucial for informing the public about what the UK is doing to decarbonise transport.

“Making the most of the huge environmental benefits of sustainable biofuels makes complete sense, and can help reduce emissions during the transition to a low carbon future.”

Biofuels are made from a range of materials, including oil, fats, and grease waste, which are often recovered from sewage systems and water treatment works.

The campaign follows a government push to help people make more conscious transport choices and understand how these contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, such as encouraging the use of cleaner vehicles.

These include a commitment to end the sale of new conventional diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2040, investment in hybrid trains, the doubling of investment in cycling and walking since 2010, along with the £2.5 billion Transforming Cities Fund, which will develop innovative public transport schemes in some of England’s biggest cities.

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