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Life Cycle Action

Minimising the impact of our vehicles on the environment

From our designers styling cars of the future, to engineers honing the latest models so they are great to drive and more fuel-efficient than the last, building cars that you will want to drive for many years is only part of our job when we deliver cars to the showroom.

We are committed to reducing the environmental pressures associated with our products throughout their lives. From design, through to production, driving and recycling, we take into account everything we use and manufacture to see how it impacts the environment and our health, through a 360º approach called Life Cycle Thinking.

Our meticulous approach to design has led to an array of innovative features that have helped to improve environmental efficiency. For example, to improve fuel consumption in our Yaris Hybrid, a lightweight redesign of its hybrid components created a 17% lighter and smaller system.

Also, we specially developed our own recyclable plastic called Toyota Super Olefin Polymer (TSOP), which is more recyclable than conventional recyclable plastic and is used in our bumpers and other parts. Increasing the use of recycled materials in our cars, such as those used for soundproofing, has also been another significant development

Toyota Motor Manufacturing France (TMMF) started producing Toyotas in 2001 and was built around the concept of Green, Clean and Lean. Optimising energy consumption through heating and logistics, the plant became the first company in the north of France to send no waste to landfill in 2002, and achieved a zero incineration rate in 2007.

An ongoing series of measures to improve its energy efficiency has seen 1020m2 of solar membrane added to the building’s roof to provide six month’s worth of office electricity, a 400m2 solar wall in the press shop to reduce heating consumption and a rainwater recovery basin that saves 36% of the plant’s water usage.

Our quest for the ultimate in environmentally friendly driving took a significant step with the launch of our Prius Hybrid in 1997, significantly reducing NOx (nitrogen oxides) and CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions while improving fuel economy. Combining an engine with electric motors and a battery meant drivers could benefit at low speeds from electric-only driving to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, and the range, power and efficiency of our petrol engines away from the city.

The advancement in recent years of our electric vehicle (EVs) and plug-in hybrid technology will further reduce fuel consumption and running costs. Being powered solely by an electric motor and battery, EVs are perfect for short trips around town by offering emissions-free driving if renewable energy is used.

Our plug-in hybrids allow charging of the hybrid battery from a mains electrical supply. This extends the cruising range of the electric-only driving mode (EV mode) as far as 25km, and on short trips can deliver better fuel efficiencies than a conventional hybrid even with empty batteries.

The next chapter in our story will be fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), which we expect to have on sale in 2015. Powered by fuel cells stacks, which generate electricity from a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen from the air, they only emit water from the exhaust pipe. When fuelled using natural energies such as solar and wind, FCVs make our vision of sustainable motoring a reality.

Everything we do has to follow our motto of the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle, and it’s vital we continue this approach to realise our vision of a sustainable and recycling-orientated society.

In Europe, the percentage of a car’s weight that should be reused or recovered will rise from 85% to 95% in 2015, and thanks to our integrated recycling approach we have been committed to achieving this target ahead of the deadline.

Our cars are now virtually free of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium and we use a number of car parts and anti-corrosion coatings that contain no trace of lead, and lighting and switches without mercury. We have also removed harmful substances in our solvents and numerous types of paint.

Throughout your car’s life it will require batteries, tyres and oil filters to be replaced, which is why we set up a waste collection system to retrieve used parts from our European dealers and send them back for recovery. We also now offer remanufactured parts that include air conditioning compressors, power steering racks and clutch kits.

With the growth in our hybrid model production it is important that we consider recycling our hybrid batteries. Since the EU Directive 2006/66/EC was adopted in 2006, the final treatment companies responsible for recycling our nickel metal hydride batteries, found in cars like our Yaris Hybrid, are legally required to meet a target recycle weight of 50%.

Initiatives such as our Easy to Dismantle marks that are applied to vehicle parts to aid dismantling and removal of fuel, demonstrate how we are fully committed to taking opportunities to recycle at every stage in the lives of our cars.

When a vehicle finally reaches the end of its useful life, which admittedly can be a long time for a Toyota or Lexus, it must be disposed of properly so that no harmful substances are allowed to contaminate the soil and groundwater. Drivers can return their Toyota or Lexus car to a designated take-back point, now set up in countries across Europe..