CHACHOENGSAO, THAILAND – Students on field trips and other groups regularly visit Toyota’s Ban Pho plant here. They come not just to see workers make vehicles.

Also pointed out to visitors, up to 1,400 a month, is a forest and nature preserve on the grounds of the complex 40 miles (65 km) south of Bangkok.

Four years ago, employees planted thousands of seedlings to create the “Biotope,” says Toyota spokeswoman and tour guide Pasorn Saowarattithada. “We’re seeing the return of many creatures after a long absence.”

Toyota bills the plant, built six years ago on former agricultural land, as one of five sustainable facilities in its worldwide manufacturing network.

Carbon emissions are reduced by using a cogeneration system coupled with solar panels. Much of the factory wastewater is treated and recycled onsite. Waterborne paints are used for topcoats.

“We also have achieved zero landfill use,” Saowarattithada says in listing eco-friendly features. “The plant reflects the cycles of industry and the cycles of nature.”

It has a capacity to annually make 100,000 Hilux pickup trucks and Fortuner SUVs for domestic and export markets.

Architects who designed the complex incorporated many features of Toyota’s assembly plant in Georgetown, KY, a spokesman says.

Ban Pho is one of three Toyota manufacturing facilities in Thailand. The others make cars.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com