Toyota to Use Eco Friendly Plastic in Next Gen Prius

Toyota is planning to use a more eco-friendly plastic from kenaf plant in next generation Prius

Published: 03-Jan-2003

 Yomiuri Shimbun

Toyota Motor Corp. revealed a plan to use a newly developed plastic made from plants to produce automotive parts starting in April, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

According to a company source, the plan is part of an effort to help fight global warming.

The plastic is made from the stalks of kenaf, or East Indian hibiscus, which absorbs large amounts carbon dioxide from the air during its growth cycle.

As a result, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted when the kenaf-based bioplastics are burned will not add to the total amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contributing to the greenhouse effect.

The plant, the fiber of which traditionally has been used to make paper and cloth, is considered more environmentally friendly than other vegetation used for similar purposes as it has a larger capacity for absorbing carbon dioxide.

Toyota combined kenaf fibers with polylactic acid, which also is made from plants, to develop the new plastic.

Toyota will use the new plastic in its Prius sedan, a highly fuel-efficient car with a hybrid engine that runs on both gasoline and electricity.

The latest Prius 2003 model is to be introduced in July.

The new material will be used for the sedan's doors and other parts of the car's interior, according to the source.

In coordination with Toyota's move to pave the way for developing eco-friendly materials and vehicles that use fuel cells or hybrid engines, automotive parts manufacturer Araco Corp., an affiliate of Toyota located in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, is planning to operate a full-scale kenaf plantation in Indonesia.

Toyota also is preparing to produce polylactic acid from sweet potatoes grown in Indonesia.

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