To return the resources used in automobiles to the stock of resources available for use in automobiles, Toyota is taking up the challenge of developing recycling technologies for ELVs (End-of-Life Vehicles). In 1998, Toyota's plant for recycling ASR (Automobile Shredder Residue) from ELVs began operations. Further, Toyota established the Automobile Recycle Technical Center in 2001 and is engaged in the research and development of new dismantling technologies.
In 1993, Toyota, together with Toyota Metal Co., Ltd., began to develop technology for recycling/recovery of ASR and constructed the world's first mass-production recycling plant, with a capacity of recycling about 15,000 ELVs per month. The plant went into operation in August 1998.
The Recycling Plant (Toyota Metal Co., Ltd.)
The ASR Recycling Plant sorts and recycles copper and glass, as well as raw materials for RSPP*. Sorted and recovered resins, rubber, etc. are used as an alternative to kerosene fuel
Urethane foam and fabric, the major constituents of shredder residue, are sorted out and recycled into RSPP, a soundproofing material now being used in several vehicle parts. Compared to conventional products, this new soundproofing material has ample air pockets which maintain a good balance between its sound insulating and sound absorbing characteristics for exceptional soundproofing performance. As of March 2010, it had been used in about 20 million units in all.
Recycling of Soundproofing Materials (RSPP) (cumulative total)
Toyota independently developed a high precision sorter to separate wire harnesses. After the plastic shields and connectors are removed, the remaining copper (of purity 97% or above) is recycled. The separated copper is currently being used at foundries as reinforcing material in aluminum castings.
Utilizing the high-quality characteristics of automotive glass, powdered glass from shredder residue is recycled into tiles with remarkable density and strength, and also used as materials for landscaping pavement bricks.
Together with Sanei Co., Ltd., Toyota researched ways to utilize the sorted resins that form the bulk of shredder residue in terms of weight, and succeeded in converting them into an alternative fuel, which it has been using since April 1999.
From 1996, controls were imposed on ASR landfills. Toyota developed melt-bricking technology that kneads and heats the ASR, reducing its volume to one-fifth of previous levels. The amount of lead leaching was reduced to between one-fourth and one-fifth of previous levels, reducing environmental impact from landfills.
Toyota began working on recycling sorted resins (solids and fuel additive residue), which used to be disposed of in landfills, and together with Aichi Steel Works developed a technology for utilizing this resin as an alternative to coke for steel-making electric furnaces. The use of this new technology began in January 2005. In a steel-making electric furnace, a carbon material such as coke powder is normally used as a heat source and recarburizer when melting scrap iron to form steel stock for automobile parts, etc. By adding an appropriate amount of the resin sorted out from ASR, it has become possible to achieve a heating efficiency usable as a heat source and also to use the resin as an alternative to the recarburizer.
This new technology now makes it possible to effectively utilize mixed resins, which have been difficult to recycle because of their lightweight and small calorific value.
While Japan's Automobile Recycling Law requires that the ASR recovery rate be increased to 70% by 2015, Toyota achieved this goal in 2007.
Toyota continues to develop more advanced recycling technologies and recycling systems.
Utilization of Sorted Resins (Solids and Fuel Additives) as Fuel for Electric Furnaces