New petrol pump labels to hit UK forecourts

New E5 and B7 petrol pump labels will indicate ethanol and biofuel content of petrol and diesel; retailers must display signs by September

A new set of petrol pump labels is set to hit UK forecourts in September this year, clearly indicating the biofuel and ethanol content of different fuels being sold. The new labels are part of an EU-wide drive being adopted by the UK to help drivers “choose the right fuel” while highlighting the emission advantages offered by biofuels and high-ethanol petrol.

The Department for Transport issued a call for evidence in July last year on whether E10 petrol should be introduced to UK filling stations. E10 petrol leads to a 2 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions compared to the E5 petrol that is the norm on British forecourts, but motoring groups have previously warned over 800,000 cars are incompatible with the higher-ethanol fuel.

While the DfT won’t publish the results of the E10 consultation until “later this year”, plans to clearly label ‘standard’ unleaded as ‘E5’ indicate the consultation is likely to see E10 introduced before the end of 2019. The UK is under pressure to meet CO2 reduction targets set out in the Paris Agreement, with the potential introduction of E10 fuel being one piece of this puzzle.

As well as the mandated E5 label, petrol stations will have to clearly show the biofuel content of the diesel fuel being sold, with diesel comprised of seven per cent biofuel clearly labelled as ‘B7’. Biofuels are typically comprised of a blend of oil and plant or animal fat fuel, with the UK’s biodiesel comprised of oilseed rape, sugar beet and wheat. Figures from 2016 show 132,000 hectares of land in the UK was used to grow crops for bioenergy

A DfT spokesperson said the new labels “will help drivers chose the right fuel for their vehicle, whilst also highlighting the use of biofuels in reducing the CO2 emissions from everyday road vehicles.” The DfT added “the ongoing decarbonising of traditional fuels” will help towards its emission elimination Road to Zero strategy.