Monday, May 18, 2009

Life Cycle Analysis

Life Cycle Analysis

In an effort to reduce the impacts of cars on the environment and society, Toyota has developed ‘Eco-Vehicle Assessment Systems’ (Eco-VAS) to evaluate performance.

Eco-VAS is a comprehensive design tool, which Toyota’s engineers use to measure vehicle impacts through their ‘life cycle’ (LCA) - during their design and production, distribution, use and disposal.

>> Design and production
>> Distribution
>> Driving
>> Disposal

Design and production

Development and design greatly affect the overall environmental impact of a vehicle. Fuel efficiency, exhaust emissions, the use of hazardous substances and raw materials are all assessed. Engineers use data from the Eco-VAS design tool to explore every potential impact and ways to overcome them prior to sending a single new car into production.

Production. All Toyota manufacturing facilities are accredited to ISO14001 environmental management system, and work to aggressive targets to reduce energy and natural resource use, as well as waste and emissions. A range of other ‘sustainable plant’ activities are also adopted.


In New Zealand, our Thames plant (which refurbishes vehicles under the Signature Class brand) is ISO14001 accredited – a world first for a used vehicle facility.

Green Purchasing Guidelines. Toyota uses its considerable purchasing power to encourage suppliers to develop more sustainable products, materials and operating practices. Vehicle parts suppliers are required to achieve ISO14001 as well as introduce other voluntary actions to reduce their environmental footprint – such as reduce CO2 emissions from their activities, and harmful substances from their products.


Within Japan, Toyota measures its environmental impact from the distribution of vehicles and vehicle parts throughout Japan and overseas.

Vehicles are imported into NZ on the Toyofuji shipping line, owned by Toyota. The modern fleet is specifically designed as car carriers and incorporate the latest fuel-saving technologies for sea freighting, saving a third of the fuel compared to conventional shipping.

Toyota has set reduction targets for fuel and CO2 emissions, and waste from wrapping and packaging and is implementing them through improved loading rates and package containers, shifting to more efficient modes of transportation and increasing fuel efficiency.

Within NZ, Toyota measures the CO2 emissions from our vehicle distribution and works with freight providers to reduce the environmental impact from our distribution network. We are reducing costs and improving freight efficiencies after completing a review of how vehicles are moved around NZ.

We reduce waste packaging from our parts distribution by sending returnable containers to our dealer network. Parts are packaged with 100% recycled cardboard and protected from damage with shredded recycled paper from our office.


As well as leading the way with hybrid technology, Toyota is constantly improving conventional petrol and diesel engines to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

In NZ we have the widest range of vehicles available including compact fuel efficient vehicles and commercial vehicles which feature the latest ‘common rail’ clean diesel technology. Our models are amongst the most fuel efficient in the market and the average fuel economy of all the vehicles we sell in NZ has improved by 13% since 2002.

The maintenance and servicing of vehicles also has an environmental impact. To reduce the volume of waste generated during the driving stage, Toyota has extended service intervals, developed long-life fluids and funded equipment to recycle and recover materials at dealerships. In addition, all Toyota dealers follow a comprehensive environmental management programme which goes beyond local authority requirements.

>> Average fuel economy
>> Dealer Environmental Management


End of Life Vehicles (ELVs) are cars which have come to the end of their lives. They are usually sent to dismantling companies where a number of parts are removed and reused. Toyota’s Eco-VAS design approach aims to improve the dismantling, resource recovery and recycling of materials at the end of the vehicles life. This approach has led to the development of a number of innovative technologies and processes, which reduces the demand on natural resources and the volume of waste to landfill.

Toyota began recycling vehicle parts in 1970 and, since then, has been progressively implementing numerous recovery and recycling measures – in some cases creating new products for ‘wastes’ discarded by society.

These include:
• Innovative materials – Toyota uses plastic bottle waste as insulation materials, converting them into car parts such as engine covers and floor mats.
• Recycled and easy-to-recycle plastics – Toyota developed the Toyota Super Olefin Polymer in 1991 which does not deteriorate even after repeated recycling and Thermo Plastic Olefin (TPO).
• Bioplastics - Toyota uses recycled plastic in many car parts and is a leader in the development and use of bio-plastics, which don’t contain harmful chemicals and petroleum used in conventional plastics. These are being used in a number of car parts including spare wheel covers and floor mats, and have the potential for much wider application as an everyday plastic. In 2000 Toyota also began the use of kenaf fibres in the Corolla, and in 2006 expanded its use in the package tray and door trim of the Lexus LS460.
• Auto Shredder Residue – Toyota diverts old car waste away from landfill and into a raw material for sound proofing new cars. The shredded material has excellent sound absorbing qualities and is used in doors, floors and dashboards.
• Improved dismantling – Toyota has incorporated a range of easy-to-dismantle features into its new vehicles since 2003. Toyota’s Automobile Recycle Technical Centre researches tools and designs for improved dismantling.
• Reduction of harmful substances – Today many thousands of chemical substances are manufactured for a wide range of products, and the effects on human health and the environment are not always clearly known. Toyota is voluntarily working towards the early elimination of the use of four substances of concern (lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium). In addition, Toyota is reducing the amount of PVC resin used, as well as toluene and xylene in thinning and cleaning solvents.
• Collection and recycling of hybrid batteries. Toyota hybrid batteries have a warranty of 8 years or 160,000kms and last for the life time of the vehicle. We have a programme in place for nationwide collection and recycling of HV batteries. Batteries are transported overseas for disassembly and component parts (precious and scrap metals, and plastics) from electrode plates, casing, cables etc., are recycled or reprocessed.

The whole package

The coming together of multiple Eco-VAS technologies result in vehicles with a smaller environmental footprint. For example, the current Prius combines innovations in design, materials and recycling with the outstanding fuel economy and low emissions from the Hybrid Synergy Drive system.

End of Life Vehicle Research

Motor vehicles contain hazardous fluids, gases and heavy metals, posing a potential risk to the environment at disposal, and a cost to society – especially for the 25,000 vehicles which are abandoned or illegally dumped each year.

A further 170,000 used vehicles enter NZ ever year. As these cars have an average age of seven years, they are closer to the end of their life which creates disposal problems here. At best NZ has an ‘average’ infrastructure to deal with cars, and only around 75% of a vehicle by weight, is recycled.

In addition to its own research, Toyota invested in a major study by Massey University that investigated this issue and presented recommendations for improving the manufacture, dealer, customer and governmental response.

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