THE AUTOMOBILE IS one of the most durable products on the market today. It is also one of the most recycled. With more vehicles being sold each year, making a vehicle recyclable is crucial in terms of raw materials savings and reduced resource consumption. Toyota is working to make vehicles easier to recycle by phasing out our use of certain substances of concern (SOCs) in parts and accessories. Our SOC policies support Toyota's worldwide commitment to producing easy-to-recycle vehicles and phasing out SOCs, called The Toyota Recycle Vision. For more information on The Toyota Recycle Vision, please visit www.toyota.co.jp/en/environment/recycle.
In North America, our SOC work focuses on the phaseout of four heavy metals — mercury, cadmium, lead and hexavalent chrome. In addition, Toyota is working to reduce VOCs in the automobile cabin that may have health effects. Our SOC strategy requires that we work across functions and across countries. This strategy is being implemented globally and requires constant communication between different regions and countries. Within North America, we share issues and information in a cross-functional working group.
In 2004, Toyota made a voluntary commitment to minimize SOCs. Our North American SOC strategy involves partnerships with thousands of domestic and foreign suppliers to identify components that contain SOCs and to develop a timetable to phase them out. We have a system in place to ensure that all parts meet the SOC limits in Toyota's global technical standard. We have successfully reduced SOCs in North America to de minimis levels as outlined in the European Union Directive on End-of-Life Vehicles. (Target 9.1)
Supplier tracking and verification of SOC content is done through the International Material Data System (IMDS), facilitated in North America by the Auto Industry Action Group. (Target 9.2) All suppliers input into this system the percentage of SOCs contained in parts. Toyota has developed a separate interface for its design staff that automatically calculates whether the SOC content is at, above or below the threshold.
We recently eliminated hexavalent chrome from radiator grills and decorative chrome plating on all of Toyota's vehicles, and from the corrosion prevention that coats our bolts. These bolts were imported in the past, but went into production at North American assembly plants at the end of 2007. Lead has also been eliminated from wheel weights, and lead-free wheel weights are now used at all North American manufacturing plants and vehicle distribution centers. Additional SOCs will be identified in the future. (Target 9.3)
Toyota has been researching methods to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in vehicle cabin interiors. VOCs such as aldehydes cause the “new car smell” and may have health effects, including nose and throat irritation. There are no regulations or standards in North America; however, our parent company in Japan is meeting voluntary standards set by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), and has asked Toyota in North America to be in compliance with these standards by 2011.
Toyota North America is developing low VOC technologies that will ensure our compliance with the JAMA standards by 2011. (Target 9.4) We worked with our material suppliers to reduce aldehydes by developing a grade of polyacetal that reduces formaldehyde emissions by 80%. In addition, Toyota has been developing new tape systems to reduce toluene emissions. Several interior parts use tape as a secondary attachment method for sealing and to reduce unusual interior noise. Examples of these applications are ethylene propylene polymet seals used under the instrument panel and felt tape used for noise vibration and harshness (NVH) purposes. The new technology reduces the level of toluene emitted by more than 90%.
Over the next three years, one of the biggest challenges we face in meeting our action plan targets is to identify and manage additional SOCs, particularly as the European Community's REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical substances) legislation and other chemical regulations come into force.