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The Recycling Process

The European End–of–Life Vehicle Directive (Environmental Directive 2000/53/EC) was adopted by the European Parliament and Council on September 18, 2000, to improve the recycling and recovery of ELVs, and to increase the environmental performance of all economic players in the processing chain. Since then, nearly all EU Member States have enacted laws to implement this Directive.

Designing for recycling

In order to simplify the dismantling process, Toyota designed a new 'Easy to Dismantle Mark'. This mark is added to vehicle parts clearly indicating certain points that assist in initial dismantling, such as the positions at which large resin parts can be easily separated and the locations at which holes can be drilled for removing fuel.

Cars contain plastics that are hard to recycle. Toyota has therefore developed a special recyclable plastic called Toyota Super Olefin Polymer, or TSOP, that can be used to make car bumpers and other parts which can then be recycled many times over.

Greening spare parts

Batteries, tyres, and oil filters all need to be replaced during a vehicle's lifetime. Toyota has therefore set up a waste collection system that retrieves used parts from European dealers and sends them back for recovery. In addition, Toyota's remanufactured parts offering now includes air conditioning compressors, power steering racks, cylinder heads, starters, automatic transmissions, alternators, engines and clutch kits.

Substances of Concern

Lead, together with Mercury, Cadmium and Hexavalent Chromium, are heavy metals that cause long-term damage to the environment if buried unprocessed in landfills. In line with the year 2000 European Union directive on End–of–Life Vehicles which limits the use of these Substances of Concern (SoCs) in materials and vehicle components starting in 2003, Toyota now uses a number of zero–lead car parts and anti–corrosion coatings, mercury–free lighting and switches, and asbestos–free friction materials and engine gaskets. It also avoids SoCs in various kinds of paints and in solvents.

The end is a new beginning

Toyota has created a dedicated Automobile Recycling Technical Centre in Japan to experiment with new techniques for dismantling vehicles for recovery. This has resulted in the construction of an operational Automobile Shredder Residue Recycling Plant which in 2001 achieved Toyota's voluntary goal of developing the technology for a commercial system to achieve a high recovery rate for component materials.

Once Europe's end–of–life cars have been shredded to extract usable materials, they still leave 2 million tonnes of residue behind. Traditionally this has been buried in landfill or incinerated. But the European ELV and Landfill Directives now in force limit the use of this solution.

In Japan, Toyota has developed ways of using certain foam products found in vehicle residue to create recycled soundproofing products. Thanks to the high–quality characteristics of automotive glass, powdered glass from shredder residue is recycled into tiles for use in landscaping pavement.

Shredder residue that cannot be recycled can nevertheless be melted down into extremely small packs for landfill, reducing once more the environmental impact of vehicles on future generations.

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