What the new labels on petrol pumps mean for drivers

For many of us, topping up the car with fuel means grabbing the right coloured nozzle and boggling at the cost of a litre.

But if you’ve looked closely at the pumps recently you’ll have noticed that the way they are labelled has changed.

Since last September, filling stations around the country have had to display new labels on their petrol and diesel pumps.

The new signs replace the simple “unleaded” or “diesel” wording as well as those indicating the octane rating of the fuel.

They don’t however represent a change in the actual fuel. The petrol and diesel from the pumps is exactly the same as before and retailers are expecting to keep naming them as such alongside the new labels.

Petrol pumps now display E5 inside a circle, while diesel pumps show B7 inside a square.

What the signs mean

The new names on the labels represent the move to blend renewable fuel with traditional fossil fuels.

Renewable fuels (such as biodiesel and ethanol) have been blended into UK petrol and diesel fuel for over 10 years as part of efforts to reduce vehicles’ carbon dioxide emissions.

The E5 on petrol pumps means the unleaded fuel contains up to five per cent ethanol.

The B7 on diesel pumps represents fuel that can be up to seven per cent biodiesel, with the renewable element mostly coming from oilseed rape, sugar beet and wheat.

(Image: HM Government)

Fuels with higher levels of renewables could be rolled out in future, with E10 (petrol with a 10 per cent ethanol mix) already in use in some parts of Europe and the Government is considering making it the default standard in the UK. However, concerns that up to 800,000 older cars cannot run on E10 have delayed its introduction in the UK.

Whatever the rating, the circle represents petrol, the square represents diesel.

Where will I see the signs

The new signs are now a legal requirement on fuel dispensers and nozzles around the UK and are also in use across Europe.

New cars also feature the symbols, usually on or near the fuel filler cap. These might feature a higher number than on the pumps and represent the maximum blend you car will run on.

For instance, any car with an E10 sticker can use E5 petrol.

Some diesel vehicles have a “no biodiesel” sticker but these are used to stop people using very high biodiesel blends or even 100 per cent biodiesel. All diesel vehicles can safely use B7 diesel.

For more information visit: https://knowyourfuel.campaign.gov.uk/