Toyota has announced that it will expand the use of plant-derived "Ecological Plastics" in the interiors of its vehicles starting next year. The first to receive a major dose of trim bits made from this carbon-neutral material will be a new hybrid vehicle -- although whether that will be the 2010 Prius, its Lexus platform-mate, the 2010 HS 250h, or both, was not disclosed. The release did indicate that within the course of 2009, Toyota aims to use this more environmentally-responsible type of plastic in approximately 60 percent of the interior components of any vehicle in which it does appear. Scuff plates, headliners and seat cushions will be first in line to get the green treatment, but since the new eco-plastic is fully engineered to meet all heat-resistance and shock-resistance requirements, the scope of its overall use is expected to broaden over time.
Advanced compounding technologies that permit the homogeneous mixing and consistent bonding of their basic elements allow Ecological plastics to be created in two ways: either completely from plant-derived biomass or from a combination of pure plant materials and conventional petroleum-based plastic. Both types emit less CO2 over their lifecycles (manufacture to disposal) than their non-eco counterparts, and obviously require less petroleum to create.