As challenging times continue for the global motor manufacturing industry, here in the UK there are some reasons to be cheerful when it comes to sustainability, investment and a greener and cleaner motoring future.

Auto manufacturing carbon footprint falls to lowest ever level

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has reported some great news in its 23rd annual Sustainability Report. The research shows that the UK automotive industry’s carbon footprint fell to the lowest levels on record in 2021, with the supply chain and production producing 81, 095 fewer tonnes of carbon than in 2020 – a fall of 11.2%.

The report explained that the saving in carbon tonnage equates to taking 225, 000 cars of the average UK age of nine years off the roads and replacing them with the newest models. The figures also show that since 1999, the UK automotive industry has cut CO2 emissions by 1.5 million tonnes (70.6%), which is equivalent to removing almost 900, 000 cars from the roads.

Reducing waste

The SMMT Sustainability Report also found that the automotive industry is making great strides in waste reduction, with a 6.1% decrease in water used for every vehicle manufactured, plus a 2.6% year-on-year drop in waste being sent to landfill. What’s more, a massive 96.2% less waste per vehicle is now destined for landfill compared to the beginning of the millennium and 95% of a vehicle by weight is now re-used, recycled or recovered thanks to an industry-wide initiative started in 2015.

Government to be held accountable for net zero targets

In more positive news for a more sustainable future, a recent court ruling found that secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Kwasi Kwarteng’s net zero strategy was in breach of the Climate Change Act due to its failure to demonstrate how each part of the strategy will achieve its specific legal obligations.

The government now have until March 2023 to deliver a credible updated strategy that details how 2050 net zero targets will actually be achieved. Clearly the original strategy should have been more targeted and achievable. However, it’s great news that this court case, which was brought by campaign groups including Client Earth, will actually hold the government accountable for its carbon cutting aims, including within the automotive industry. Making the switch from diesel and petrol to EV vehicles remains a massive challenge for the industry, however a revised strategy should bring more data-driven guidance than the current plans.

Bouncing back and investing in people

The SMMT report also showed that despite the challenging economic climate and supply chain issues, the automotive industry increased apprenticeships by 67% and training days by 5.6% year on year to 1.7 days per worker. This commitment to the careers of the next generation of motor manufacturing workers is testament to the industry’s resilience and ultimate faith in a bright future. Indeed, the report also showed that UK automotive-related manufacturing turnover made a 5% recovery in 2021.

Innovation in NVH

Here at Interflex, we have recently developed Ocean, a lightweight, mouldable material, which is already being used by major manufacturers in the motor industry. Not only is Ocean made from 75% recycled polyester, it’s recyclable at the end of its life and has a low carbon footprint, making it the perfect solution for manufacturers looking for greener and more lightweight NVH solutions as part of their wider drive to create a more sustainable industry.

To find out more about Ocean and the other products we offer to reduce noise and vibration in vehicles, please call us on 01949 861 494 or email