Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC), along with a number of partner firms in Japan, has developed what it claims is the world’s first technology to recycle copper in wiring harnesses. The automaker, along with Yazaki Corp., a manufacturer of automobile components; Toyota Tsusho Corp., the trading arm of the Toyota Group; and eight Japan-based auto dismantling companies, has developed a method that is able to produce copper with a purity level of 99.96 percent from the wiring found in automobiles, according to the company.
The eight auto dismantlers involved in the collaboration are Auto Recycle Sanri, Johoku Jidosya Kogyo Co. Ltd., Kawaguchi Shouten Co.,Ltd., Kobayashi-shouten Inc., Marudai Corp., Morita Sharyo Corp., New Iwata Corp. and Yamauchi Shoten Co. Ltd.
Toyota says that when wiring harnesses are removed from end-of-life vehicles using conventional methods, it is extremely difficult to separate the copper from the fuse box and other components. As a result, it has not been possible until now to recycle harnesses using mechanical sorting methods.
In 2010, however, TMC, Yazaki, Toyota Tsusho and auto dismantlers began collaboration in a number of areas, including establishing preprocessing quality requirements for dismantling companies. In 2011, TMC developed the first mechanical sorting method that is designed to prevent contamination from minute impurities. Trial production involving small amounts of recycled copper began at TMC’s Honsha, Japan, plant in 2013. Once quality had been assessed by Yazaki, the copper was introduced to the wiring harness manufacturing line. Stable production involving recycled copper has been achieved, and the partner companies say annual production of recycled copper using this method will increase to about 1,000 tons in 2016.
The technology is the result of TMC’s first collaboration with parts makers and dismantling companies in Japan on next-generation recycling systems. Toyota says it will continue to enhance this technology while reducing costs and expanding collaborative efforts. Furthermore, Toyota will create an ongoing next-generation recycling project with parts makers and dismantling companies with the aim of fostering a recycling based society. This, in addition to other resource recycling initiatives, will become a new source of competitiveness for Toyota and other involved companies as they combat resource depletion, the company says.