RAISING THE BAR SAVING & RECYCLING RESOURCES

LEXUS is finding better, more efficient ways to contribute to a healthier planet, leading the industry in better business practices.

Our commitment to recovering, recycling and re-using has permeated the entire company. Sustainability is an enormous challenge that we’ve taken on, and in that arena we lead the industry.

Our recycling technology is continually being improved and we are on target to achieve a 95% recovery rate of our vehicles by 2015. To reduce waste to a minimum, we recycle everything—in our offices, our factories, and our sales facilities – reducing CO2 levels beyond our achievements on the road.

SAVING & RECYCLING ACROSS THE ENTIRE LIFE CYCLE OF THE VEHICLE

At Lexus, we consider the recycling factor throughout the entire life

cycle of a car – from production through to the end-of-life stage.

Examples of the measures we take into account:

・ Repeatedly use reusable items

・ Reduce waste generation

・ Recycle waste

To make more effective use of limited resources, we feed these results back into the vehicle development and design stages to create ever-more recycling-optimized vehicles.

recycling-animate0

PROMOTION OF EFFECTIVE RESOURCE USE

PRODUCTION

REDUCTION IN DISCARDED MATERIALS FROM FACTORIES
We promote resource loss reduction activities to cut waste from factories. In particular, we are tackling yield improvements and waste reduction to steadily cut down the amount of waste output.

RESOURCE FLOW

This flow graphic illustrates how we re-use some resources while minimizing the waste of the non-recyclable resources during the construction of our products.

recycling-animate1
ENVIRONMENT CENTER

Adjacent to the Motomachi factory is the Environment Center, an energy recovery plant that was overhauled and re-opened in April 2009. The Center burns combustible waste to generate electricity and steam, while also functioning as the Motomachi factory’s energy source.

Managing combustion more effectively has drastically reduced the emissions of harmful substance in exhaust gases. Additionally, incinerated ash is re-used externally as materials for such things as cement or pavement.

recycling-environment-center

REDUCTION OF
WATER USAGE

recycling-water-usage

To reduce overall water usage, we are constantly improving water use efficiencies throughout our production facilities – with particular attention paid to water management in car assembly plants, which are typically high usage facilities.

LOGISTICS

REDUCTION IN DISCARDED MATERIALS
FROM FACTORIES

These materials have been drastically reduced and we are re-using items more and more where practicable, such as making wider use of returnable shipping containers.

recycling-packaging

IT’S MORE THAN JUST RECYCLING

Lexus is further reducing CO2 emissions by making wider use of plant-derived plastics in its products to replace petroleum-derived plastics.
recycling-animate2

SWEET SPOT

LEXUS ROLLS OUT ITS NEWEST BIODEGRADABLE ECO-MATERIAL. THE SECRET INGREDIENT THIS TIME?
SUGARCANE. BY CLARK HEIDEGER

recycling-sweet-spot-0

WHEN IT COMES to Lexus’ recent advances in biodegradable, plant-based auto materials, let’s be clear about one thing, says Paul Williamsen, National Manager of the Lexus College:
“We’re not talking about weaving a shirt out of hemp.”

In other words, Williamsen tells me, “The end product is not a plant product. It’s a plastic, with all of a plastic’s performance characteristics.”
To anyone already driving a Lexus with soy-based seat materials or kenaf-fiber interior components, this is certainly already clear, as it will be to owners of the new CT 200h, which in 2011, rolled out yet another advance in Lexus eco-plastic.

This time, it’s called bio-PET, and it’s made with none other than sweet, renewable, biodegradable sugarcane.

Yum.

When I spoke with Williamsen about bio-PET, he was quick to point out that, while cool in and of itself, this particular breakthrough in environmental plastics represents more of an evolution than revolution.
“We’ve already got a range of environmental plastics that we’re using, some of them for many years,” says Williamsen. “There’s actually several that we’re currently featuring in the CT 200h, and there will be more. We’ve got specific types of plastic that have to meet specific requirements.”

So the fact that Lexus continues to push the envelope beyond soy- (RX seats), kenaf-fiber- (HS 250h), and castor-seed-based car materials (HS 250h) is the real story here. Lexus just keeps adding newer and better bio-sourced automotive materials, and more of them. And in that arena, sugarcane-based bio-PET represents a major breakthrough.

recycling-sweet-spot-1LIVING PROOF: THE CT 200h’S
“SWEET” INTERIOR CARGO STORAGE.

You see, all plastics are not created equal. For proof of that, look no further than your recycling bins. At the base of every plastic container is the familiar recycling icon featuring a number surrounded by a triangle; each number represents a different type of plastic with different performance characteristics. And right there, at number one, is PET, albeit minus the “bio” (we’ll get to that in a minute).

OK, so what is PET, you may ask? In simplified terms, it’s a durable plastic formed with unrenewable petroleum-sourced monoethylene glycol. Chances are you already know it well in the form of your friendly neighborhood water bottle, which is at least recyclable.

So, to add a little “bio,” or renewable-sourcing to the durability equation, Lexus’ bio-PET plastics replace the petroleum-sourced monoethylene glycol with biological raw materials derived from sugarcane.

Up to this point, Lexus has limited its use of previous environmental plastics, such as those made with kenaf fibers, primarily to secondary underlying structural applications that are not seen or felt. In the CT 200h, however, the sugarcane-based bio-PET is used to line the luggage compartment, which is very much in plain sight.

Not only that, but the use of bio-PET brings the CT’s overall use of ecological plastic to something like 30 percent, if you look at all CT bioplastic components like the floor mats, rear cargo deck side, and rear cargo deckboard trim, says Williamsen. And that’s still just the beginning.

THE BIO-PET-PACKED CT 200h INTERIOR EMBODIES LEXUS’ 2015 COMMITMENT.

“Obviously, this has a big advantage in that there is literally less of a carbon footprint when using non-hydrocarbon feedstock,” says Williamsen. “But it gets better: any time a plant is grown, it absorbs carbon out of the atmosphere. So this can actually make the overall carbon footprint go negative, in some parts of the calculation.

“And of course, all of our environmental plastics, in order to meet our requirements for use, also have to be fully recyclable, he continues.

Williamsen calls this the “triple hit” of environmental plastics: non-petroleum feed stock, plant sources that actively absorb carbon, and recyclability at end-of-life. This is also a big part of the story. Much has been made of Lexus’ commitment to make all of its vehicles 95 percent recoverable by the year 2015.

With this latest adoption of bio-PET in the CT 200h, Lexus has demonstrated that it remains committed to that goal. And keep in mind, this is a self-imposed mandate; no government agency is dictating this action. It’s Lexus’ choice.

Look for Lexus’ environmental plastics to have fully arrived when they start replacing exterior components, which probably represent the greatest challenge, subject as they are to sunlight, moisture, and heat.

“We’re working on developing new plastics for applications that we don’t currently have,” concludes Williamsen. “The whole point here is, environmental commitment is not only measured at the tail pipe or wall socket; it’s also measured in these other areas.”

recycling-section5-bottom