Why is materials an important issue?
Materials refers to both goods provided by suppliers and waste generated by our activities. To Toyota, the term means everything we use – from the raw materials and parts that are assembled into vehicles, to the laptops and office supplies we rely on every day – as well as the waste we generate, then recycle or dispose.
During the last century, the use of raw materials increased at about twice the rate of population growth. Not only is the world producing more goods, but it’s also generating more waste, and too often, waste is not recycled or disposed properly. Plastics are a prime example: By 2030, plastic waste is expected to increase by more than 50%. Globally, only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling and by 2050, the oceans may contain more plastic than fish (by weight).
All this material use puts pressure on the environment. Mismanagement of materials and waste can lead to habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, stressed and depleted fisheries, land and water contamination, desertification and climate change.
Finding more sustainable ways to extract, use and manage materials would change the relationship between material consumption and economic growth for the better.
Businesses are expected to play a significant role in achieving the bold and transformative steps urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. Toyota is committed to doing our part to ensure responsible and sustainable production. That's why Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) named "Materials" as one of our four environmental sustainability focus areas.
What are we doing to manage materials?
In North America, Toyota's materials strategy emphasizes finding ways to keep materials circulating and out of landfills. Our projects focus on:
Using Sustainable Materials
We strive to conserve natural resources by increasing our use of sustainable materials, which means using materials in the most productive way, with emphasis on using less and reducing toxic chemicals and environmental impacts across the whole life cycle. Sustainable materials include those that are reclaimed, renewable, recycled or recyclable, have a smaller greenhouse gas footprint, and generate less waste than their alternatives. We continue to develop and commercialize technologies that enable the use of sustainable materials, such as bio-based plastics and post-industrial garment clippings, in a range of vehicle components.
To minimize the negative impacts our activities can have on the environment, we practice the 3R's: Reduce waste at the source, Reuse, and Recycle. Our efforts keep materials circulating, which helps to alleviate the demand for natural resources and keeps waste out of landfills and incinerators. We recycle more than 90% of all waste from operations every year.