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Potato powers car parts manufacturing

Toyota believes it has found a parts material of the future in the humble potato.

Since 2001, Toyota has been pioneering bioplastics derived from sweet potato crops grown in Indonesia.

The project has developed to the stage where a new product, Toyota Eco Plastic, is being used in the manufacture of floor mats for the Toyota Raum which is on sale in Japan and follows more extensive use of the material in Toyota’s ES3 concept car.

The sweet potato project is a part of Toyota’s wider biotechnology business, established in 1998. Research was launched into the potential of the sweet potato and the way it could be used for creating biodegradable plastics, feeding livestock and producing hydrogen for fuel cell and electric vehicles.

At present the global bioplastics market is just 20,000 tonnes annually, but Toyota calculates that as much as 30 million tonnes of the total annual plastics demand of 150 million tonnes could be replaced by bioplastics. In view of that potential, Toyota aims to increase production to 20 million tonnes with a potential sales value of five trillion Yen.

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