Regulators demand 'environmentally positive' equipment

By Chris Sleight31 March 2011

The European Commission and US EPA have unveiled a sweeping new set of regulations that will see construction equipment become 'environmentally positive' by 2020. In an unprecedented show of co-operation, officials on both sides of the Atlantic have laid down a challenge that machines must make a positive contribution to air quality, environmental noise and CO2 emissions.

Website

A special website containing full details of the new laws went live on the morning of April 1. Click here for more details.

In the area of air quality, the new regulations demand that any exhaust emissions contain fewer pollutants than the air taken in. "This will be achieved to some extent with Stage IV/Tier 4 Final laws, but beyond that we will be mandating zero nitrous oxides, particulates, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in emissions from off-highway machines from 2020 onwards," said spokesman John Greenblood. "In addition, we are thinking about a requirement to add a pleasant odour to exhaust streams - perhaps something floral, or the smell of baking bread."

On the issue of noise, there will be a requirement not only for machines not to make any sound, but also to absorb extraneous noise from their environment. "Large machines like excavators, haulers and loaders should not only be able to operate without causing nuisance, but their size means they should also be able to absorb other noise energy in their vicinity. Probably," said Mr Greenblood.

Processes such as rock breaking or tipping materials will also have to be at least silent, according to Mr Greenblood. He said this could be achieved by measures such as, "Lining dump truck bodies with airbags," and, "Using lasers or something instead of mechanical methods of breaking."

Machine design will also be changed radically by the new laws, which mandate that they be constructed using low carbon materials - a move that will outlaw the use of today's common materials, such as steel, various metal alloys, glass and polymers.

"The industry's carbon footprint will be substantially reduced by moving back to more traditional materials. Timber from sustainable sources will be perfectly adequate for structural elements like crane booms, and things like bodywork could be made out of hemp cloth or recycled cardboard," said Mr Greenblood.

Industry reaction

A source at a major manufacturer, who did not want to be identified, described the new regulations as, "A real hum-dinger." A second industry source could not be reached for comment as he was "Lying down in a darkened room with a splitting headache and a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach."

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