Why is MATERIALS an important issue?
MATERIALS refers to both raw materials and waste. 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, to the waste we recycle or dispose. More generally, it means anything that is either made or used to make something else and all the waste generated in the process.
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 percent. Globally, only 14 percent of plastic packaging is collected for recycling and by 2050, the oceans may contain more plastic than fish (by weight).1
All this material use puts pressure on the environment. Mis-management of materials and waste leads 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 growth for the better. That’s why addressing materials challenges is critical to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity that establishes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG #12: Responsible Production and Consumption aims to substantially reduce waste generation, achieve environmentally sound management of chemicals and ensure sustainable production and consumption patterns.
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 and achieve the SDGs. Toyota is committed to doing our part to ensure sustainable production. That's why Toyota named "Materials" as one of our four focus areas in North America and why, globally, it is the focus of Challenge 5 of the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050.
What are we doing to better manage MATERIALS?
Here in North America, our materials strategy emphasizes finding ways to keep materials circulating and out of landfills. Our projects focus on conserving natural resources, eliminating waste and supporting community recycling initiatives.
Conserving Natural Resources
We strive to conserve natural resources by:
Increasing our use of sustainable materials. Using sustainable materials 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 renewable, recycled or recyclable, have a smaller greenhouse gas footprint, and generate less waste than their alternatives.
Extending the life of vehicle parts such as batteries. Toyota works with recycling partners to collect used hybrid vehicle batteries from dealerships and recycle the battery cells, casing, wiring and plastic components.
Since 2010, we have recovered and recycled over 140,000 hybrid vehicle batteries, totaling over 9.2 million pounds.
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 keep waste out of landfills and incinerators.
We focus our efforts in two areas:
Daily Operations — Each year, our team members implement projects that either reduce waste at the source or find new ways to reuse or recycle. Team members consider every waste stream, no matter how small. We recycle or compost more than 92 percent of waste from operations every year.
Supporting Community Recycling
One of the best ways for us to help create a net positive impact on the environment is to share our expertise with others. That’s why team members participate in community events that help spread the word about the environmental and cost benefits of reducing, reusing and recycling.
The Ann Arbor Summer Festival (A2SF) is one of the largest public multi-arts gatherings in the state of Michigan, held on the campus of the University of Michigan and downtown Ann Arbor. In partnership with Toyota, A2SF created the Festival Footprint Initiative to transform the festival into a zero-waste event. Thanks to the initiative, festival goers utilize three-stream waste receptacles and all A2SF food vendors and caterers comply with requirements to only offer compostable containers, utensils and serve ware.
What do we plan to do next?
Toyota has been developing five-year environmental action plans for 30 years. These plans help us manage our impacts and hold us accountable for our performance.
Here in North America, we recently announced our new five-year environmental action plan for fiscal years 2022 to 2026. This plan is our seventh and runs from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2026. Our first report on progress against these targets will be published in 2022.
Our materials targets are to:
Each five-year action plan puts us further along the path to achieving the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 (Challenge 2050). Challenge 2050 is a set of six goals that seek to go beyond eliminating environmental impacts to creating net positive value for the planet and society. The six goals are the most demanding and most inspiring environmental commitments Toyota has ever made.
Goal #5 on MATERIALS calls on Toyota affiliates around the world to support a recycling-based (circular) economy by conserving natural resources and eliminating waste. For more information about our 2050 materials strategy for North America, see "Materials: Toyota Motor North America Position Statement."