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UK Automotive’s Production Carbon Footprint Falls to Lowest Ever Level

The SMMT generates an annual report on automotive and supply chain CO2 emissions. For the past 23 years, this report has monitored CO2 emissions and the carbon footprint of the automotive manufacturing industry.

In 2021, the UK automotive industry’s production carbon footprint fell by 11.2% in 2021 compared with the previous year to reach its lowest level since records began. This is a reduction of 81,095 tonnes of CO2 when compared to 2020.

Information from the SMMT Sustainability Report published in 2022 shows that the industry was able to improve its environmental efficiency despite issues with semiconductor supply. Landfill waste is down 2.6% year-on-year, and water usage per vehicle produced is down by 6.1%.

These numbers are gradual improvements, but when compared to 1999, the improvements are far more dramatic.

Since 1999, the automotive industry has cut CO2 emissions by 70.6%, amounting to over 1.5 million tonnes of CO2. Additionally, 96.2% less waste per vehicle goes to a landfill compared to 1999. This is due to the industry’s strong commitment to recycling material.

Both manufacturers and supply chain contributors have also achieved the impressive feat of sending no waste to landfill during production and supply, despite production increasing 40.2% post-pandemic.

The automotive industry as a whole continues to work hard to reduce emissions in line with governmental targets, and each year is an incremental step in the right direction.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “With the automotive sector still trying to recover from the pandemic while simultaneously transitioning to zero emission vehicles, the improvements made in the sustainability of production this past year is a remarkable achievement. The report shows the industry delivering on its commitments, with dramatic reductions in both the energy used to make vehicles, and the emissions they release when on the road. The automotive sector is central to the UK’s carbon reduction ambitions and, with government support to improve UK competitiveness, we can ensure that transition continues to create well-paid, clean-tech jobs while generating economic prosperity and growth in all regions of the UK.”