New fuel labels to provide biofuel content to drivers

The labels will appear on the pumps at every forecourt and on the filler caps of all new vehicles by September 2019

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New labels to help drivers easily identify the right fuel for their vehicles and inform them of the biofuel content of both petrol and diesel are to hit forecourts this year.

Blending biofuels into regular petrol and diesel reduces carbon emissions (CO2) and helps the UK meet its climate change commitments.

Statistics from the Department for Transport (DfT) reveal the CO2 savings from using biofuels in road transport last year was equivalent to taking more than a million cars off the roads.

Under the new rules, which will come into effect by September 2019, petrol – which contains up to 5% renewable ethanol – will be labelled ‘E5’ while diesel –  which contains up to 7% biodiesel – will be labelled ‘B7’.

The labels will appear on the pumps at every forecourt and on the filler caps of all new vehicles.

While biofuels have been blended into road fuels for many years and have helped cut emissions, it will be the first time the information is being highlighted to consumers.

A DfT spokesperson said: “These new labels will help drivers choose the right fuel for their vehicle, whilst also highlighting the use of biofuels in reducing the CO2 emissions from everyday road vehicles.

“Our Road to Zero strategy sets out our ambitions to end the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2040, while the ongoing decarbonising of traditional fuels will help during this transition.”

Last July, the government issued a call for evidence on whether and how best to introduce E10, a petrol grade with up to 10% renewable ethanol.

A new set of fuel labels on dispensers and nozzles at filling stations has also been launched across the EU.

Additional Information

The range of fuels available to motorists is increasing. This reflects ongoing efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and improve air quality. Fuels such as hydrogen and higher blends of biofuels are becoming available in addition to regular petrol and diesel.

At the same time the UK is also seeing a growth in flexible car usage, such as car clubs, where individuals are less likely to be the owner of the vehicles they drive. All this means a greater need for clarity for motorists as they refuel vehicles.

To help consumers identify the right fuel for their vehicle, the government has proposed to introduce new fuel labels. These will allow motorists to match the fuels offered at forecourts to the fuels compatible with their vehicle, simply by checking a set of standard labels.

The labels are based on a British standard developed in partnership with other European countries and are being introduced across Europe. Even as we are leaving the EU, the benefits of these provisions to UK consumers are clear and as such government proposes to transpose these fully into UK legislation.

The government’s proposals will ensure each new vehicle sold in the UK will have labels near the filler cap and in the manual. This will help motorists to identify the fuels compatible with their vehicle. Similarly, every filling station will need to apply the same labels to their fuel dispensers. The labels will cover petrol and diesel grades as well as other alternative fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)and hydrogen.

The government is still looking into whether and how the UK could introduce E10 petrol, which contains up to 10% bioethanol and could help further reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of petrol vehicles. If and when it is introduced,consistent fuel labelling will help consumers to distinguish between E5 and E10.

Further details on plans in relation to E10 are to be published later in 2019. To aid the introduction of the fuel labels, the government will be working with forecourt operators, fuel suppliersand other stakeholders to ensure guidance is made available to the public. Subject to parliamentary approval, the regulations will be made in March 2019 with labels appearing at forecourts and in new vehicles in the months after.

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