Jun 09, 2009 11:43 AM
In the lexicon of famous oxymorons, the auto industry about to add another: ecological plastics.
Before too long, expect it to rank right up there with jumbo shrimp and military intelligence.
Lexus is introducing plant-based ecological plastics on its first hybrid-only luxury car, the HS 250h. About 30% of the car's interior and trunk will be covered in this newfangled plastic that will help make the car 85% recyclable.
Instead of being made from petroleum, ecological plastic - also called bioplastic - is made from plants. The process emits about 20% less carbon dioxide, the key ingredient in greenhouse gases.
One of the plants used to make the stuff is called Kenaf, a plant that grows fast, can be harvested annually and is full of fiber needed to make it plastic-like, Lexus says.
Kenaf also has a high CO2 absorption capability that helps offset its release of the greenhouse gases during thermal recycling. So far, bio-plastics are more expensive, so their use may be limited to luxury cars. But over time, Lexus says that guilt-free plastics could become a bigger part of our lives.
The HS 250h is due in late summer, and price hasn't been disclosed yet.