Subaru marks 25 years at Lafayette, Indiana, plant – Ruge’s Subaru

14 Apr
By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
Updated 2012-03-19 3:56 PM

Subaru employee Rick Cordray tosses a small plastic protective cap for an air conditioner line into a recycling bin in this 2008 file photo.
By Tom Strickland, for USA TODAY

Subaru’s Indiana factory just marked its 25th year since being incorporated — and today, it’s more successful than ever.

Subaru incorporated its Lafayette, Ind., plant on March 17, 1987 and two years later, it started making a single model, the Subaru Legacy. It added the Outback in 1995 and the Tribeca in 2005.

Last year, the plant, costing $700 million-plus to build, achieved record production, churning out 161,716 vehicles. In addition to Subarus, it still makes Toyota Camrys as a consignment job for the much-larger Japanese automaker.

Drive On visited this impressive plant four years ago to research a story on how automakers have gone “no waste.” At Lafayette, Subaru workers were going to extremes to try to reduce even the slightest amount of wasted material. We recall how the plant was filling barrels with pins and other small leftover items that could be melted down or returned to manufacturers. What little was left over and couldn’t be recycled was shipped to a recycling plant in Indianapolis, not put into the waste stream.

The irony? The city of Lafayette had no curbside recycling, so workers who would fret all day about throwing away a paper wrapper at the plant would get home and see all their household waste — soda cans, newspapers, everything — go straight to a landfill. What a waste!

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