EU parliament passes green tyre-labeling law
The European Union is to introduce a tyre-labelling scheme intended to encourage consumers to buy greener tyres for their vehicles.
The European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday (25 November) adopted legislation on the project, which will come into effect in 2012.
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The labelling system is much the same as the bloc's existing labelling for energy-intensive household appliances such as fridges and tumble dryers, with top performers awarded a green "A" class and the worst a red "G" class.
The European Commission expects the labelling will allow consumers to make environmentally-informed choices about the tyres they purchase.
Under the scheme, tyre suppliers will be obliged to provide a label but will have the option either to stick it to the tyre itself or hand out a paper document instead.
Depending on how quickly consumers act on the new information provided on the labels, the EU executive predicts that this could produce a carbon dioxide emissions reduction of between 1.5 million and four million tonnes a year - the equivalent of cutting 6.6 million tonnes of consumption across Europe by 2020.
Currently, there is very little information on the ecological footprint of a tyre available when purchasing one. The new labels provide information on fuel efficiency as well as safety and noise levels.
EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs cheered the move: "Consumers and fleet managers will be able to choose safer and low-noise tyres and save on their fuel bills, while the EU as a whole will benefit from reduced road transport emissions."
The Greens in the parliament also welcomed the additional information provided to consumers, but said that regulation on emissions would produce a more substantial effect.
"Consumer information is vital but better regulation and standards are also needed if we are serious about reducing CO2 emissions from our roads," said German green MEP Rebecca Harms.
The bill comes after a hard-fought lobbying battle in the EU capital between rival tyre producers such as Germany's Continental and French firm Michelin.
The German firm has invested research and marketing funds into tyre safety and technical performance, while Michelin has pinned its strategy on environmental characteristics, with each side keen to ensure its product gets a positive EU classification.
The European tyre market is worth over €80 billion a year.
Fazilet Cinaralp, the secretary general of the tyre and rubber suppliers' trade group, ETRMA, said the new law will introduce a "level playing field for all" and encourage investment in new technology.