Green

When electric cars aren’t enough: Toyota uses a landfill to power its plant

Several automakers have realized that being truly green involves much more than just building cars that don’t use much fuel.

The latest is Toyota, which is simultaneously powering its plant and cutting local emissions in Georgetown, Ken., by capturing waste gas from a local landfill site.

Landfill generates large quantities of waste gas, much of which is methane — a potent greenhouse gas.

Working with Waste Services of the Bluegrass, Toyota is capturing large quantities of this gas in a network of wells. This is then burned in generators, producing electricity from the landfill’s waste products.

The net benefit to the local environment will be a 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gases. And for Toyota, the system generates one megawatt of electricity each hour, enough to power many of the plant’s operations.

The energy equivalent is enough to power 800 average American homes — all from captured landfill gas.

The system isn’t up and running just yet. Construction begins this month, with completion in early 2015. But when it’s done, much of that power will go towards building 10,000 vehicles per year, including two of Toyota’s hybrid models, the Camry and Avalon.

Toyota already has a zero-landfill policy at many of its plants, preferring instead to recycle as much as possible on site. Some of it goes on to produce compost at the site, fertilizing an on-site garden, and other waste is repurposed.

Other manufacturers have taken a similar stance to waste and renewable energy over the past few years. Volkswagen, GM, and Ford have all installed solar generation at various facilities — Volkswagen’s Chattanooga facility in particular comprising 65 acres of solar panels.

What other steps would you like to see automakers making to reduce emissions and waste from production? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

This story originally appeared on Green Car Reports.

More about the companies and people from this article:

A Japanese multinational automaker headquartered in Toyota, Aichi, Japan. In 2010, Toyota employed 300,734 people worldwide, and was the third-largest automobile manufacturer in 2011 by production behind General Motors and Volkswagen G... read more »

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