Energy use hit by downturn

Posted on 19 Oct 2010 by The Manufacturer

The ravaging effect of recession on the automotive industry saw to vehicle manufacturers increasing their energy use per vehicle made by 20 per cent last year, although efforts were made towards cutting waste in other areas, a new report reveals.

Informed by 94 per cent of the UK’s total vehicles’ producers, The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Trader’s eleventh annual sustainability report, released today, found that collective energy use was reduced by 16 per cent in 2009, although total vehicle production was down by 30 per cent, giving a 20 per cent increase per vehicle, which was roughly mirrored in terms of C02 emissions. The figures for water use also followed this trend.

Companies fared better in terms of reducing their waste to landfill though, with a 31.9 per cent overall reduction equating to 9.2 per cent reduction per vehicle. Vehicle manufacturers now recycle 12 times as much waste as they send to landfill. What’s more, measures currently being put in place toward end of life recovery will enable 95 per cent recovery by 2015.

There was also some slight improvements in manufacturers’ social performance. The number of training days per employee was up by 19 per cent while the number of incidents that caused down time was down by one per cent.

In terms of the vehicles themselves, average new car emissions have fallen to a low of 149.5g/km. This is down 21.2 per cent over the past 10 years.

SMMT chief executive, Paul Everitt said in the light of the global downturn, the figures are positive.
“We are emerging from an unprecedented economic crisis and the progress made in cutting emissions, waste and energy use, particularly during the last 12 months, is a testament to the resilience of the UK motor industry and its commitment to acting responsibly,” he said. “While there remain challenges ahead, this is a time of opportunity for our sector. We develop, produce and export products that are in demand across the world and therefore, we have a vital role to play in helping to re-balance the UK economy.

He alluded to a recent increase of global investments in UK-based development and production of low carbon technologies as indicative of the longer-term strength of the sector.

“Comprehensive Spending Review must support and incentivise private sector investment in R&D, skills and capital equipment to allow industry to fully exploit the global opportunities emerging from the new focus on manufacturing in the UK,” he added.

The full report, including detailed insights into energy usage, waste reduction and progress with electric and other ultra low emission programmes, can be downloaded by clicking here.