Leading carmakers are mining scrap vehicles for valuable raw materials to reuse in new cars
The automotive industry is one sector that is pushing the envelope on the circular economy. Japanese car manufacturer Toyota is securing valuable new sources of raw materials, including rare earth metals, by refining its scrap vehicle dismantling processes. Toyota announced in 2014 that it had developed a system to extract and recycle copper from vehicle wiring harnesses without it being contaminated by impurities.
After trials at Toyota’s Honsha plant in 2013, and stringent quality checks, the retrieved copper was successfully reintroduced into the vehicle production process. The car maker says the technology has delivered recycled metal with 99.96% purity, and estimates 1,000 tonnes of copper can be produced annually using the process.
In 2015 it announced a goal to establish a recycling-based society, focused on four key areas: the use of eco-friendly materials; using parts for longer; developing recycling technologies; and manufacturing new cars from end-of-life vehicles (ELVs). Last year, the company embarked on a huge project, the Toyota Global Car to Car Recycle Project, whereby technologies and systems like the copper wire harness recycling scheme will be rolled out globally.
Steve Hope, general manager for environmental affairs at Toyota Motor Europe, says the project will also aim to scale up ELV hybrid...