Campaigns and Lobbying

The Waste Group seeks to lobby and comment publicly on Government policies relevant to Waste Management.

Questioning the credentials of the Government's Car scrappage incentive

The Waste Group have questioned the environmental sense of the Government’s £2000 scrappage scheme whereby owners of cars over ten years old qualify for a £2,000 grant towards the purchase of a new car. The way this scheme was justified to the public as a Green initiative sounds plausible enough. Newer cars on average are less polluting and use less fuel per mile, so people should be encouraged to swap. But the main point of using less fuel per mile is to save on energy and reduce the emission of Greenhouse gases that are the cause of Global Warming. If you really want to achieve this, you need to consider the energy that was used in order to manufacture the car that the Government is encouraging you to scrap. From quoted research figures, and assuming that the old car is efficiently recycled and that your new car is 25% more fuel efficient than the old one, you would need to drive the around 100,000 miles in the new car just to break even in environmental terms.

The figures above were found in “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air” by David MacKay as follows:

(Implied) Ball-park figure for average petrol car energy consumption: = 0.8 Kwh per Km (Page 29. See also the discussion on Page 27 justifying his treatment of all forms of energy as equivalent for comparison purposes, so he uses a conversion ratio of one between electrical and chemical energy).

New car’s embodied energy (Note on Page 94) 76,000 kwh (Treloar et al 2004) or 30,500 (Burnham et al 2007, assumes recycling)

So if the new car you buy under the scrappage scheme is a 25% improvement (i.e. 0.6 Kwh per km), the number of km you need to drive before payback is reached is at least 30,500 divided by 0.2 = 152,500 km.

Correspondence Summary:

8/10/09: E-mailed modified text to Mike Penning, MP.

Replies from Mike Penning 20/10/09 and Ian Lucas Dept. for Business Innovation & Skills 27/10/09 admitting that "Scheme 'primarily designed' to boost automotive industry"