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Honda Demands Stronger Regulations on Small Engine Emissions

3 December 2008 - Over the last decade, the focus of reducing emissions in public, private and government realms have primarily been fixated on cars, and trucks, however, according to Honda Power Equipment Manager, Ray Briffa, the Australian Government needs to introduce emission regulations for small engines and equipment such as generators, lawnmowers and brushcutters to keep up with standards enforced in North America and Europe.

"Currently, Australia is amongst one of the last signatory nations of the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to not have regulatory standards on emissions concerning the use of engines in garden care equipment (25hp or less)," Mr Briffa said.

"The United States has enforced these standards for the past ten years, with Europe, Canada, Japan, Brazil and Chile following suit; from 2010, even China will join this group.

"In research conducted by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) comparing two and four-stroke engines, results showed that the two-strokes produced up to 10 times more pollutants than four-stroke engines, and somewhere between 20 to 30 times more pollution than a modern day family car – this could mean that your weekly mowing is doing more harm to the environment than driving your car all week.

"If the Government is genuinely concerned about the environment, it needs to broaden its emissions focus beyond the automotive and heavy vehicle industries and consider regulating all equipment with an internal combustion engine.

"Local councils and Governments should also show independent initiative, following in the footsteps of the Queensland State Government who have introduced a green purchasing policy.

"The policy strongly recommends the use of low emission four-stroke products over traditional two-stroke powered garden equipment, with detailed information contained within its Buy Green Toolkit and small engines fact sheet available on the website*."

According to Mr Briffa, regulating the equipment used to maintain Australia's vast sporting ovals, expansive parks and reserves along with domestic yards will align current government policy with the world's best environmental standards.

"Gardening and landscape maintenance is big business in Australia due to the vast suburban expanses, sporting fields and public amenities; it contributes over a billion dollars each year to the national economy, but unfortunately some of the equipment being used emits up to 30 times more pollution than modern motor vehicles," he said.

"At present, about 80 per cent of local councils use and operate their own small plant fleet and equipment, ranging from ride on mowers and brushcutters to generators, chainsaws and pumps. Over half of the small plant equipment is made up of hand-held two-stroke engine products, while the remainder is powered by a mixture of two and four-stroke engines.

"It will also come as no surprise that two-stroke products require up to 30 per cent more fuel than low emission four-stroke products, according to the Queensland Government's small engines fact sheet," Mr Briffa added.

With current small engine technology, two-stroke motors rely on gas and air to carry a thin oil film to critical components to keep the engine lubricated and operational. As a result the emissions from two-stroke engines often carry more levels of Hydrocarbons (HC), Nitrous Oxides (NOx) and Carbon Monoxides (CO).

Unlike four-stroke engines where the pistons are constantly bathed in oil, the two-stroke engine is lubricated by the mixing of fuel and oil, which results in the emission of unburnt or partially burnt fuel.

According to Mr Briffa, standards in emissions of HC and NOx gases per kilowatt hour in small engines have existed in North America and Europe for some time, with regulatory bodies such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Californian Air Resources Board (CARB), and the European Union playing their part in regulating emissions.

 "The lack of regulations or standards limiting air pollution from small engines in Australia is in stark contrast to the complete ban of two-stroke engines in parts of the United States and illustrates how behind our Government is in addressing small engine pollution here," Mr Briffa said.

"While Australians are looking to new technologies to reduce environmental damage, one solution is already for sale at your local mower centre," he added.

Honda offer a complete range of four-stroke power equipment including lawnmowers, brushcutters, tillers and the world's first four-stroke hedgecutter and leaf blower, which all comply with strict international emissions standards.