14th July 2021

Government document published today concludes that

  • Targets for green transport fuels should be increased beyond the level initially proposed
  • Fuels made from waste plastics and industrial gases should be incentivised

The Department for Transport published its conclusions on strengthening the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation today.

Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the Renewable Transport Fuel Association said

“Our call for the obligation to be increased has been heard, but even a 5% increase leaves the obligation level inconsistent with the Government’s plans for electrification. Decarbonisation of both fuels and vehicles is needed; they play a complimentary role and both must be pursued with equal vigour.

Doubling the increase to 5% might be seen as a welcome first step, but we will keep pressing for fuels to play the fullest role they can in greening transport. Further target increases are inevitable, and sustainable feedstocks for biofuels are not a limiting factor, as our research has demonstrated [1].”

The decision to include recycled carbon fuels [2] is welcome, and we look forward to working with the DfT on the details. We had argued that a wider range of fossil fuel derived wastes should have been included, as there can be significant environmental benefits from diverting these materials from their existing disposal or recovery routes into transport fuels. Turning end of life tyres into transport fuel is a shining example of this [3].

Grant Pearson, Chair of the RTFA, said

“The announcement of a dedicated strategy to address the role fuels can play in road, maritime and aviation transport is most welcome, and should help DfT set meaningful and ambitious RTFO target levels.  I have every confidence that once that work is undertaken, it will show the benefits of a significant target increase.  The 5% increase announced today is not sufficient.”


Notes for editors

The RTFA represents the largest number of producers of renewable transport fuel.  Its members account for 100% of the UK’s production of bioethanol and biodiesel, and all supplies of biomethane and biopropane to transport.  They are also active in developing projects for the production of sustainable aviation fuel, and advanced drop in fuels.

Among other changes to the RTFO are

  • Enabling renewable hydrogen to be used in fuel cell trains and shipping
  • Increases to sustainability standards

[1] The RTFA commissioned a study by Prima to quantify the extent to which targets could be increased through the use of feedstocks that are considered to have very low land use impacts.  The conclusion was that the basic obligation level could be increased to at least 21%.  The results of this study can be found on https://rtfa.org.uk/2021/04/08/rtfa-publishes-report-on-the-justification-for-a-significantly-increased-rtfo-target/

[2] Recycled Carbon Fuels are fossil fuels that are going to be burned anyway, but which save more carbon if they are converted into transport fuel.  Examples are black bin bag waste which would otherwise go to an energy from waste plant and produce electricity.  Thanks to the UK’s success in deploying renewable electricity generation, grid electricity has much lower carbon emissions that before, whereas slow progress on decarbonising transport fuels means greater savings are achieved by replacing diesel.

[3] Tyres comprise 40 – 50% natural rubber, which is a form of biomass and not a fossil fuel.  RTFA companies are active in promoting the conversion of end of life tyres into transport fuel, and are collaborating on a project to facilitate greater uptake of this technology. Read more about this work on https://rtfa.org.uk/2021/06/24/industry-promotes-better-use-of-end-of-life-tyres/