Are e-scooters good for the environment?

From energy efficiency to zero emissions, let’s explore whether an e-scooter really is an eco-friendly alternative.

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Are e-scooters good for the environment?

Electric scooters have been the subject of a lot of debate in recent years, especially when it comes to sustainability and environmental impact. So, it’s no surprise if you’re wondering, are e-scooters good for the environment? Let’s set the record straight: e-scooters are the environmentally friendly choice for urban transport, for several reasons. They’re energy-efficient, produce zero emissions, reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, and can be powered by renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. 

Electric scooters are also a much more convenient and cost-effective alternative to traditional modes of transportation such as cars and public transport. If you still need convincing, let’s take a look at some common concerns and questions about their impact…

What we’ll cover

  • Greenhouse gas emissions from e-scooters
  • The manufacturing process and parts
  • Are e-scooters energy efficient?
  • Do electric scooters cause more pollution than cars?
  • Is it better for the environment to use public transport or an e-scooter?
  • City commuting and cleaner air
  • What does the future hold for electric scooter emissions?


Greenhouse gas emissions from e-scooters

When it comes to choosing the most environmentally friendly mode of transport, it can be tough to know what to go for. Cars are convenient and widely available, but they're also known for producing high levels of harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Take a look at this infographic from the Statista Mobility Market Outlook, shared by the World Economic Forum, to see just how high CO2 emissions are for the various types of passenger cars.


Miles apart: Car C02 emissions from Statista


Electric scooters, on the other hand, run on electricity, which means they emit zero pollutants into the air. Because of this, they have a much smaller carbon footprint compared to traditional cars. Another thing to bear in mind is that the electricity used to power e-scooters can be generated from renewable sources like wind or solar power, so the overall carbon footprint of a scooter is even lower.

Electric scooters are also very energy efficient – they use less energy per kilometre than a car, making them an ideal alternative for short-distance trips. How do a car's CO2 emissions compare to an e-scooter’s CO2 emissions though? What do the numbers say? Studies show that electric scooters are the clear winner when it comes to CO2 emissions…

According to Cenex, e-scooters produce around 35 to 67 grams of CO2 per km over their lifespan, compared to 200 to 350 grams per km for private petrol cars. 200 grams for a car might not seem like a lot, but that quickly adds up over time, especially if you drive a lot. So, if you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint and do your part to protect the environment, swapping your car out for a scooter for short-distance trips might just be the way to go.


Are e-scooters good for the environment?


The manufacturing process and parts

To understand the carbon footprint of an electric scooter, we need to look at the entire lifecycle of the scooter, from production to disposal. The manufacturing process involves the mining and extraction of raw materials, the manufacture of components, and the assembly of the final product. Whilst much less than when manufacturing a car, these processes still require energy and can produce high levels of CO2 emissions. 

When it comes to raw materials, like aluminium, for the frame or the materials for the lithium-ion battery, you have to consider where the materials were sourced and how far they had to travel before the manufacturing process began. This means every e-scooter’s environmental footprint will be different. The energy consumption during the manufacturing process also needs to be taken into account.

It’s also important to take proper care of your e-scooter to extend its lifecycle. Extending a product’s life is thought to yield a greater environmental impact than any other measure. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get your e-scooter regularly serviced and if possible, choose an electric scooter with local warehouses and servicing so that you’ve got professionals on hand to help. 


E-scooter servicing


The end-of-life disposal and recycling of the electric scooter is also an important factor to consider. One way to reduce the carbon footprint of e-scooters is to use the parts of decommissioned scooters to refurbish and extend other electric scooters’ lives.

When an e-scooter is designed for easy disassembly and recyclability, its materials can be reused and the environmental impact of their disposal is minimised. This will extend the parts’ life and reduce the need to procure and manufacture new scooters with new raw materials. Most scooter parts can be recycled if they can’t be reused in other scooters, which results in less waste from the disposal of broken parts and a much more environmentally-friendly mode of transport.


Are e-scooters energy efficient?

Electric scooters are the environmentally friendly choice for urban travel because they’re incredibly energy efficient. E-scooters use electric motors, which convert electrical energy into motion with much less waste compared to internal combustion engines, which lose a significant amount of energy as heat and sound.  Because e-scooters are designed for short trips, they don't use a lot of energy per mile, which makes them an energy-efficient option for short trips around town.

Many e-scooters also use regenerative braking systems, which capture the energy normally lost during braking and store it in the scooter's battery for later use. This helps to improve the overall efficiency of the scooter and extends its range between charges. They also use less energy per km than a car, which makes them more cost-effective. 


Are e-scooters environmentally friendly


Efficiency is also built into the scooter’s design. Unlike cars, which can waste a lot of energy due to their size and weight, electric scooters are lightweight and highly manoeuvrable, which means less energy is required to get them moving. E-scooters also have smaller, lighter wheels than cars, which results in lower rolling resistance and less energy being lost as heat, which makes them more efficient than cars or motorcycles for short trips.

To see how different means of transportation compare in terms of energy consumption, check out this infographic from Levi Tillemann and Lassor Feasley’s article, Let's Count the Ways E-Scooters Could Save the City. Most of a car’s energy is used to move the vehicle and one-kilowatt hour of energy carries a gasoline-powered car a little less than a mile. An electric scooter can travel more than 80 miles on the same amount of energy. That’s pretty efficient. And according to Tillemann and Feasley, “a human would burn about nine times as much energy walking and about four times as much energy bicycling the same distance.

E-scooter energy consumption vs other vehicles


Do electric scooters cause more pollution than cars?

We all know that cars are convenient, but they're not exactly environmentally friendly. They’re notorious for producing high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which contribute to climate change. The majority of cars on the road today are also still powered by gasoline, which produces even more CO2 emissions compared to electricity.

So, are e-scooters good for the environment when it comes to air pollution? E-scooters can also actually help reduce the amount of air pollution we’re all exposed to on a daily basis. Petrol-powered cars emit loads of pollution into the air around us, which is why you might find the air in traffic-congested cities particularly hard to breathe in. The combustion of gasoline in car engines releases a range of pollutants that can have negative impacts on both our health and the environment. These include: 

  • Carbon monoxide (CO): a toxic gas which can cause headaches, respiratory problems, and even death at high concentrations.
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx): contribute to the formation of smog and acid rain, and can also lead to respiratory problems in humans.
  • Particulate matter (PM): the microscopic particles of soot, dust, and other materials that are released into the air, which can damage your lungs and heart.
  • Hydrocarbons (HC): unburned or partially burned gasoline fumes, which contribute to the formation of smog.
  • Sulfur dioxide (SO2): when it combines with water and air, it forms sulfuric acid – the main component of acid rain.


By swapping car trips for the cleaner alternative (like electric scooters), we can improve the quality of the air we breathe and reduce the amount of pollutants we’re exposed to during our daily commutes. When powered by electricity from renewable sources, e-scooters produce zero tailpipe emissions, which is the main source of air pollution from fuel-powered cars, motorcycles, and buses.

An added benefit is that with fewer cars on the road, we can also reduce traffic congestion on the roads along with noise pollution, making everyone’s commute a lot more enjoyable.


Is it better for the environment to use public transport or an e-scooter?

E-scooters vs public transport for the environment

Public transport is often seen as the most convenient and efficient option for getting around in the UK. But when it comes to the environment, is it really the best choice? While it might seem like a more environmentally-friendly option compared to cars, public transportation has its own set of problems and not all forms of public transport are created equal when it comes to air pollution…

For starters, public transportation systems are often powered by diesel fuel, which produces high levels of CO2 emissions. Buses, for example, are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to producing emissions. The main cause of air pollution from buses is their diesel engines. Diesel engines produce harmful particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which, together, can cause a range of health problems, including:

  • reduced lung function in children
  • asthma attacks
  • lung cancer
  • heart disease
  • stroke

In fact, air pollution is estimated to cause 40,000 premature deaths in the UK each year. This is estimated to be costing the NHS £3.7 billion per year.  Air pollution was ruled as the cause of death of a nine-year-old girl in 2020, making legal history. The coroner ruled that Ella Kissi-Debrah’s death in February 2013 was caused by acute respiratory failure from exposure to nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM) pollution. The main source of this pollution? Traffic emissions. In Lewisham, near one of London’s busiest roads, Ella was exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution in excess of World Health Organisation guidelines.


City commuting and cleaner air

are electric scooters good for the environment

Fortunately, there are steps being taken to reduce the air pollution caused by public transport in the UK. The government has introduced regulations that require buses to meet certain emissions standards, which has led to the introduction of cleaner buses powered by electricity or natural gas. Some cities have also introduced low-emission zones, where the most polluting vehicles, including some buses, are charged extra fees.

Additional fees won’t necessarily fix the problem of city commuting, though. The best way to reduce air pollution from public transport is to encourage more people to use alternative modes of transportation. Of course, while e-scooters have a much lower carbon footprint than gas-powered vehicles, they are powered by electricity and the majority of the world's electricity still comes from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

Electricity can be generated from renewable sources like wind and solar power though, so the carbon footprint of an electric scooter depends on the mix of energy sources used to generate the electricity that powers it. If an e-scooter is charged using clean energy sources, it’s definitely better for the environment – and our air and health – than a diesel-powered bus.


What does the future hold for electric scooter emissions?

The future looks pretty bright for electric scooters when it comes to emissions, though. As cities around the world aim to reduce their carbon footprint, there’s increasing interest in promoting sustainable modes of transport. London, along with many other major UK cities, has recently extended its rental e-scooter trials to do exactly that. Helen Sharp, TfL’s e-scooter trial lead, said: “E-scooters could play an important role in ensuring a green and sustainable future for London.”

Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, agreed, stating that “The Mayor and I are determined to continue building a cleaner, greener and more prosperous London for everyone, and e-scooters can play a useful role in our city’s transport network by offering alternatives to car use.”


E-scooters and the environment


So, are e-scooters good for the environment?

As technology continues to improve and more of our electricity comes from renewable sources, e-scooters are likely to become even more energy efficient and reliable, further reducing their impact on the environment.

So, join us for the ride and leave fossil-fuelled transport behind. By reducing the need for cars, you'll use less energy per mile, reduce traffic congestion, produce fewer CO2 emissions, improve air quality in urban areas, and do your part to protect the environment.