Not only are many auto manufacturers increasingly looking for ways to produce more environmentally friendly vehicles, they're also often gunning for new methods to make the plants themselves more satisfactory in terms of wasted energy and pollution output.
Take Toyota, for example. Its Takaoka plant can handle up to eight types of vehicles at a time and features shorter than normal assembly lines, which reduces CO2 emissions and energy expenditures. The robots on the line are smaller and faster than the older machines typical in other factories -- about 70 percent faster, which also revs up productivity [source: Manufacturer's Monthly]. The factory engages solar energy for power and is painted with a special photo-catalytic paint that's able to soak up pollutants.
Other Toyota plants around the world are also increasingly sporting eco-friendly features, like solar panel use, wastewater recycling capabilities, zero landfill contributions and recycling innovations galore. In May of 2008, the company hosted a large tree-planting event and Toyota employees and community volunteers planted approximately 50,000 trees. In August of the same year, Thailand recieved100,000 leafy new additions.
These sorts of steps not only help decrease a factory's environmental footprint, they also bring other benefits like savings on the bottom line.