When it comes to assembling a Nissan LEAF, the company prides itself on reducing its carbon footprint by using recycled materials in its construction. According to the manufacturer, the LEAF has contributed to reducing CO2 emission by some 151,000 tons since its launch in 2010.

"It's zero emission, but if too much CO2 is emitted during the vehicle's production, we cannot call it a sustainable car," says LEAF Chief Vehicle Engineer Hidetoshi Kadota. "To preserve the planet and create a car that is sustainable and eco-friendly, we set ourselves a goal to use recycled materials to build LEAFs."

Approximately 25 percent of materials in a LEAF built in Japan consist of recycled materials, including steel, copper, aluminum, and plastics.

"Some customers fear that by using recycled materials that we are compromising on quality. (However,) we ensure these parts made from recycled materials are of the same quality as parts made from new materials," added Kadota.

Recycled materials suppliers such as UBE, maker of high-quality plastic materials in the LEAF's center console, says companies need to form a holistic system to realize a truly sustainable society.

"There is a limit in expanding the use of recycled plastics by ourselves," says Satoshi Iwami, group leader of the engineering plastic business unit, part of the Recycle Compound Group at UBE. "What we need is to form a system in which Nissan Motor Corporation and other companies take part, and hopefully we can continue to contribute to a recycling society."