For Immediate Release
July 24, 2003

Toyota to Build Pilot Bio-plastic Plant

Tokyo—TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) today announced its plan to construct a pilot plant for producing bio-plastics (polylactic acid) made from annually renewable resources like sugarcane. The new pilot plant, to be built within an existing production facility in Japan, is envisioned to be able to produce 1,000 tons of bio-plastics a year.

TMC has long been actively involved in various fields of research and development toward promoting "global regeneration" and the creation of a recycling-oriented society. Its efforts have included initiating several practices for reducing environmental impact at every stage of a vehicle's lifecycle—from development to production, use and disposal. In this vein, TMC has been promoting research and development of bio-plastic manufacturing technology and has even already started using TOYOTA Eco Plastic—automobile-use bio-plastics with improved performance in terms of durability, heat resistance and other aspects—by adopting it in the completely redesigned Raum passenger vehicle that debuted in May.

After having determined the viability of its bio-plastic manufacturing technology, TMC now plans to investigate the feasibility of reaching cost and quality targets during mass production at the pilot plant. Using sugarcane as the base material, TMC intends to carry out at the plant the entire process, from fermenting and purifying lactic acid to polymerizing polylactic acid.

Since the base material of bio-plastics is a plant like sugarcane, which absorbs CO2 from the air as it grows, bio-plastics contribute to the prevention of global warming, compared to conventional petroleum-based plastics. Furthermore, bio-plastics can be given biodegradable properties that allow them to be broken down into water and carbon dioxide by microorganisms in the ground, helping to solve waste disposal problems. As such, bio-plastics can make a significant contribution to reducing environmental impact.

To enlarge the bio-plastics market and to secure a footing for the construction of a commercial plant in the near future, TMC intends to further improve the performance of bio-plastics for automobile-use (mainly, automobile interior parts) and also plans to adapt them to the wide range of plastic products that pervades people's daily lives.

Outline of Pilot Bio-plastic Plant
Proposed site Within an existing production facility in Japan
Necessary area Approx. 5,000m2
Planned start of construction Within 2003
Planned start of trial operation August 2004
Production capacity 1,000 tons per year
Raw material Sugarcane
Investment Approx. 2.3 billion yen

Copyright 2003 Toyota Motor Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
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