Toyota is boosting production of a plastic derived from sweet potatoes. Toyota makes 20,000 tons of the sweet potato-based bioplastic annually in Indonesia, and will expand that to 20 million tons.
Making bioplastics involves extracting starch and breaking it down with enzymes to create a sugar that is fermented into lactic acid.
It is then polymerized, refined and molded. It costs slightly more than oil-based plastic. The bioplastic has appeared in Raum floor mats sold only in Japan, but could be used in future European cars, Toyota says.
Plant-based car parts are not new. Ford Model Ts used soybean-based panels and knobs.