UK automotive manufacturing improves sustainability

Jul 25, 2022
Author: Craig Burton
Craig acts as commercial partner for a wide range of corporate and non-corporate clients. He is also responsible for maintaining technical standards throughout the firm.
Automotive manufacturing

The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) demonstrate that the UK carbon footprint in automotive manufacturing has decreased to its lowest level on record as CO2 emissions fall by 11.2% in 2021 compared to 2020.


Automotive manufacturing cuts CO2 emissions

The report has shown that automotive production and the supply chain emitted 81,095 fewer tones of CO2 in 2021 than in 2020. Furthermore, average vehicle emissions were also 11.2% less than they were in 2020.

Currently, the average age of a UK car on the road is nine years old. The reduction of 81,095 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2021 is the equivalent of removing 225,000 of these cars off the road and replacing them with their latest models.

The SMMT Annual Sustainability Report began in 1999 and since its introduction, the automotive industry has cut CO2 emissions by 1.5 million tonnes, which is 70.6% less than it was in 1999. This is the equivalent of removing nearly 900,000 cars off the roads.


The automotive industry reduces water usage and sends less to landfill

Due to a global semiconductor shortage, automotive manufacturing production has been reduced. This reduced production may have enabled the sector to improve its environmental efficiency. In 2021, there was a 6.1% reduction in the amount of water used per vehicle production compared to 2020. Furthermore, the amount of waste going to landfill reduced by 2.6% in 2021 compared to 2020.

Since the millennium the automotive sector has made great strides in terms of reducing landfill waste. Per vehicle, the sector sends 96.2% less to landfill and since 2015, 95% of a vehicle’s weight goes through a takeback network which means it can be reused, recycled, or recovered at the end of the vehicle’s life. This demonstrates the automotive industry is making great strides towards a completely sustainable future.


UK’s world-renowned specialists and low-volume manufacturers

The report also found that the UK’s world-renowned automotive specialists and low-volume manufacturers were the most successful at delivering sustainable production in 2021. These companies sent zero waste to landfill and cut CO2 emissions per vehicle production by 26.6% and water usage by 11.6% per vehicle produced. These companies managed to achieve this whilst increasing overall production by 40.2% due to the post-pandemic rebuild.



To conclude, the automotive industry has managed to cut its carbon emissions by a record 11.2% in 2021. In addition, the industry has managed to reduce the amount of water used and waste sent to landfill in their vehicle production as the sector becomes more sustainable. The sector has also made strong long-term progress when it comes to becoming completely sustainable. Since 1999, the automotive industry has cut its CO2 emissions by 70.6% and has sent 96.2% less to landfill since the start of the millennium. This demonstrates that the sector is focused on building towards a completely sustainable future.


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Our specialist team offers a wide range of services which are tailored to meet your individual needs. Our understanding of the issues faced by manufacturing businesses means that we can proactively seek out ways for you to maximise your profitability and minimise your tax liabilities.

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