Both of Toyota’s engine assembly factories in the United States have achieved “zero landfill status,” which means that Toyota sells or gives away every waste product it produces to companies that recycle the waste: metals are melted down, plastic is mixed with sawdust to make plastic lumber, sludge from the wastewater treatment plant is sent to a company in Lima, Ohio, where it is mixed with other materials to make portland cement.
“Toyota has an environmental action plan calling for, among other things, reducing total energy use by 15 percent by 2005. Management at the Buffalo plant decided to do better, aiming for 19 percent. The plant achieved its 2005 environmental goals late last year, [said Don Stewart, maintenance manager for Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia.]
The Buffalo plant is operating on an even tougher environmental plan that is scheduled to be fully implemented by 2006, Stewart said. Among the requirements is the zero landfill plan. The plant had already managed to avoid sending any hazardous waste to landfills. The next logical step was to not send any waste to landfills, Stewart said.
Some Toyota plants in Japan had already met that goal, so it was attainable, he said.”
The process has required investment, as well as revision of the manufacturing process.
“Stewart said zero landfill makes sense financially in several ways. For one thing, it eliminates liability for the company decades from now should problems at a landfill need to be corrected. In many cases, federal regulators require companies that dump materials in a problem landfill to remove them.
The Buffalo plant more or less breaks even on its zero landfill program, Stewart said. For some materials, recycling is more expensive than using a landfill, he said.
Toyota’s plant at Buffalo is ISO 14001-certified, meaning it meets a voluntary international standard for environmental protection. The certification process requires that the plant have a formal environmental policy, a system designed to track the plant’s environmental performance and established mechanisms for continuous improvement.
Now that the plant has attained zero landfill status, the next step is to work with suppliers to reduce the amount of waste materials coming into the plant....
Toyota is requiring that all its suppliers achieve ISO 14001 certification by the end of this year.”
In Toyota’s text about their environmental commitment is a press release on their ISO 14001 status and Toyota’s guidelines and requirements for its suppliers. Toyota sub-contracts much of its manufacturing processes, so its suppliers handle much of the waste product.
Toyota’s Policies for Global Environmental Protection Initiatives was established in 1992. The “Toyota Earth Charter,” was revised in 2000. Toyota’s Eco-project is designed to promote these policies so to the entire company, and to apply the concept of “Totally Clean” to every stage of a car’s life cycle, from development and production to use and disposal.
In 1999, the United Nations Environmental Programme awarded Toyota their Global 500 Award, the first such award received by an automaker.
In addition to it’s green manufacturing process, Toyota also mass produces hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles. See GreenCars.org, a rating of fuel economy and emissions by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.