1. Sustainability
  2. Circularity

Circularity

Building a circular economy
We are accelerating opportunities to develop a fully sustainable circular economy, further enhancing our long-standing 360-degree approach to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover.

Starting from Design

The mantra of the four R's – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover – helps to define our constant improvement in the way we design vehicles. It helps us think about how we can make future vehicles that are even cleaner and more efficient. We do this by using innovative materials and alternative power systems, while minimising carbon emissions and the use of valuable natural resources. We design our vehicles with an easy-to-dismantle concept, prioritising parts and materials that can be used again. These can be reprocessed for use in manufacturing, recycled, or even used as an alternative source of energy.

Resource efficiency and decreasing cost of production

We are constantly finding more ways to reuse items and resources. This reduces the demand on raw materials, saving energy and helping protect the environment. In our manufacturing operations, we make sure we reuse rather than waste resources. This extends to water and any surplus materials from our production processes. By recycling things, we don’t use as many new resources or materials to make new ones. We use recycled materials to help make new cars and we look for ways to recycle components from our vehicles, such as parts from our hybrid powertrains. Recyclability is designed into all our vehicles. 

Expanding the lifetime of vehicle parts

During a car’s time on the road, many of its parts can be reconditioned and reused. The same principles apply when a vehicle is prepared for scrapping. It may still contain many parts that can be retrieved for reconditioning and reuse. We operate a comprehensive parts remanufacturing programme which takes back used parts from our European retailer network. The returned parts are inspected and reconditioned at a remanufacturing centre, with any elements that have worn out being replaced. The part is reassembled, packaged and made available at competitive prices to customers. 

From engines and batteries to fuel cell stacks

Major items that we can recondition and use include air conditioning compressors, automatic transmissions, power steering racks, cylinder heads, engines and clutch kits. We are also pursuing ways to get the most out of our parts to use them still as resources. We provide a second life to our fuel cell stacks so that they are utilized as power generators. At a global level we are also seeing hybrid batteries being retrieved from our vehicles and put to work storing clean, solar-generated power.

Avoiding waste

To keep waste to an absolute minimum, we try to recover as much as we can from our manufacturing operations. We work with specialist partners to create the best possible disposal processes for our vehicles. Even the finest waste residues can be recovered and used, for example as an alternative fuel source for industry. We also conserve water by using as little as possible and recycling wastewater generated by our production processes. Our attention to detail means that we even make sure the boxes in which our parts are supplied are designed for purpose and can be reused again and again.

Battery collection and recycling

For the hybrid batteries we take back which cannot be reused, for example as a replacement battery in another vehicle or as stand-alone units to store power, we work with  highly accomplished and accredited specialist companies which carry out the collection and recycling  processes.

SNAM, based in France, is responsible for handling nickel metal-hydride batteries used in most of our hybrid electric vehicles. Umicore deals with the lithium-ion batteries currently found in the Prius+ and Prius Plug-in models in Belgium. For all the lithium-ion batteries in the rest of Europe we work with Reneos, a network of national battery collection systems and recyclers. All our partners  use the latest techniques to recover as much material as possible and ensure that no harm is caused to the environment.

 

Recycling of Plastics

In the lead up to 2050, Toyota aims to build a society that maximises plastic recycling on a global scale. For this purpose, we aim to increase the use of recycled plastics by more than three times compared to current levels by 2030 – and fully switch to leather-free interiors by that time.

In addition to existing initiatives for collection and recycling of bumpers replaced during repairs at dealers, in order to reuse automobile shredder residue (ASR) from end-of-life vehicles as a material, which until now had been reused as heat, we are planning to use recycled plastic materials from ASR in new vehicles by utilising the crushing and sorting technologies of Toyota Metal Co., Ltd.

End-of-life vehicle treatment

In the context of the Toyota Global 100 Dismantlers Project, we set up our first model facility in Europe in Belgium with Comet Group, a Belgian company specialised in end-of-life vehicle treatment. With Comet, we conducted a demonstration of appropriate fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) dismantling in accordance with a video manual on appropriate treatment and recycling. 

We will be expanding in Europe with our model facilities to clarify requirements for facilities, operations, waste treatment and recycling at the site and to contribute to establishing social systems for appropriate treatment and recycling of end-of-life vehicles.

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