Toyota develops new sugar cane bio-plastic for car interiors

Automotive manufacturer Toyota is now using a newly developed bio-plastic made from sugar cane in the production of car interiors.

Produced by varying the formula for making polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is commonly used for products such as soft-drink bottles, Toyota has developed its bio-PET by replacing one of the raw materials in PET – monoethylene glycol – with a biological raw material derived from sugar cane.

According to the car company, this latest bio-plastic matches the performance, including cost, of petroleum-derived plastics.

The new "ecological plastic" is being used in high-use areas, such as the seat trim and carpets, because it “dramatically outperforms other bio-plastics in terms of heat-resistance, durability and shrink-resistance”, the company said.

The automotive giant will continue to use previously developed bio-plastics for ceiling and pillar garnishes, sun-visor surfaces and for injection-moulded parts, such as scuff plates and the luggage tray, as well as for luggage-space trim surfaces and foam in seat cushions.

The introduction of the new bio-plastic material sees the use of bio-plastics by the auto manufacturer in its car interiors increase from 60 to 80%.

Toyota said the benefits of environmental technology is wide ranging, especially when used in mass-produced products such as automobiles.

“Ecological plastic is instrumental for cutting CO2 emissions and for using fewer petroleum resources over the lifecycle of a vehicle, from manufacturing through to disposal,” the company said in a statement.

“The environmental advantage is that the raw material is derived from plants, which absorb CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow, rather than from petroleum-derived plastics.”

The automotive manufacturer has been using ecological plastic in its automobiles since 2000.

In May 2003, Toyota became the first car manufacturer to use bio-plastic made from polylactic acid in a mass-produced vehicle when it introduced the material in the spare-tyre cover and floor mats of a compact car in Japan.

Toyota was also the first car manufacturer to used bio-PET ecological plastic in the boot lining of its cars; the Lexus CT 200h.