Over the course of a vehicle’s life cycle, sustainable materials – those that are renewable, recyclable or are made of recycled content – 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 in a range of components and applications. For example:
- Bio-based plastics — plastics derived either wholly or in part from plant materials — are used in the seat cushions in Toyota Prius, Corolla and RAV4, and in Lexus RX 350.
- Post-industrial garment clippings made of cotton and synthetic fibers are used in door panel insulation, floor silencer and floor mats.
- Isopropyl alcohol is used instead of a chemical solvent at the vehicle processing center in Toronto to clean bumper protectors prior to installation.
In addition to sustainable materials, we also look for alternatives to rare earth metals, which are necessary components in hundreds of products across a wide range of applications, especially high-tech consumer products like electric vehicles. The mining of rare earth metals can have negative environmental and social consequences. Our parent company, Toyota Motor Corporation, has developed a magnet used in electric vehicle motors that replaces up to 50 percent of the neodymium, a rare earth metal, with more abundant and cheaper lanthanum and cerium. Toyota expects the magnets to be used in electric vehicles and other applications in the first half of the 2020s.
Toyota‘s Canadian assembly plant in Cambridge, Ontario, developed a new cleaning agent to clean the robots in the paint booth between colors. The new solvent/water mix uses 43,000 liters (11,300 gallons) less solvent than the previous version and reduces the number of bumpers that need to be recycled in half.
For more details, please see the story here.
Waste (both hazardous and non-hazardous) generated by our North American facilities totaled 812.5 million pounds in calendar year 2018. Only 1.6 percent was sent to landfills for disposal. (For certain waste streams, landfill disposal is required by law.) We recycled, reused or composted 93 percent and sent 5.4 percent to waste-to-energy, fuels blending or incineration facilities.
We continue to focus on recycling both production and office waste. Many of our plants, including our assembly plant in Indiana, as well as our new corporate headquarters in Plano, Texas, are updating their recycling programs to capture even more streams for recycling and composting, and to make it easier for team members to know what can and can’t be recycled. Our aluminum casting plant in Troy, Missouri, has switched from segregation to single-stream recycling stations, which greatly reduces the risk of recycling streams becoming contaminated with trash.
Examples of projects that minimize waste include the following:
- During the past two years, eight of Toyota‘s U.S. parts distribution centers have been using Shark Solutions to recycle 117,000 pounds of broken windshields that are damaged in our supply chain. Shark is the only recycler we’ve found to find a valuable use for the safety film, made of polyvinyl butyral (PVB), in the windshield. Typically, the glass is separated from the film and the film is disposed. Now, both the film and the glass are recycled: The safety film is used in carpet backing and other products, while the glass is usually turned into insulation. Shark Solutions has been selected to be part of the SDG Accelerator, a United Nations program funded by the Danish Industry Foundation and implemented in partnership with Monitor Deloitte, aimed at accelerating business solutions that address the challenges embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As part of the SDG Accelerator, Shark Solutions is working to establish a larger sustainable sourcing model to collect broken windshields. The company continues to expand in the Americas and Europe, with an additional focus on markets in India, China, South Korea, Japan and Thailand.
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) eliminated three waste streams:
- 7,900 headliners are no longer incinerated per year because team members improved the installation process and eliminated defects.
- 750 rocker panels – stamped steel pieces located along the sides of the vehicle between the front and rear wheel well openings – are no longer disposed per year because the transfer process between the assembly line and the plastics shop was improved.
- Team members worked with a supplier to strengthen the tabs on headlights to keep them from breaking during installation, which keeps about 276 headlights out of the waste stream annually.
- Team members at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas (TMMTX) are filtering and reusing tire lube, used for attaching tires to the wheels, and saving 145,000 pounds of material annually. This is one of many projects that showcases the assembly plant‘s commitment to conserving natural resources and following recycling best practices, which earned TMMTX the 2018-2019 Gold ReWorksSA Recycling Certification. See “Awards” for more information.
See “Waste” for waste performance data.
Toyota Canada won an award for vehicle battery recycling – for more information, see “2018 Green Award of Excellence”
SUPPORTING COMMUNITY RECYCLING
The best way 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.
HOUSEHOLD WASTE COLLECTION EVENTS
Since 1994, Toyota has helped team members and communities recycle and properly dispose of household waste. During designated collection days, team members and residents from surrounding communities are invited to drop off electronic waste, appliances, paint and other household items that are difficult to recycle or dispose. Team members also collect items such as clothing and eyeglasses that can be donated to those in need.
Several sites in the U.S. and Canada have been hosting these events for several years and together, they have ensured more than 2.2 million pounds of material have been recycled or properly disposed. Recent events include:
- Toyota‘s assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, hosted a collection event in May 2019 for team members and residents from surrounding communities in partnership with the city of Georgetown, Scott County and Green Metals, Inc. More than 846 vehicles came to the plant to drop off 177,000 pounds of household and electronic waste as well as documents for shredding and recycling.
- Toyota‘s assembly plant in Princeton, Indiana, hosted household waste and recycling days for team members and Gibson County residents in October 2018 and April 2019. In addition to fluorescent light bulbs, paints, pesticides and other household items, more than 550 vehicles stopped by to drop off over 500 pounds of household batteries, 900 gallons of used oil, 5 gallons of medicine, and 7 box trucks of used electronics. Between the two events, almost 59,000 pounds of waste were collected and recycled or properly disposed.
- Toyota‘s aluminum casting plant in Troy, Missouri, participated in a recycling event with the city. Team members helped to collect 18,600 pounds of electronic waste from community members.
- Toyota‘s powertrain plant in Huntsville, Alabama, collected 2,320 pounds of household waste from team members during an Earth Month collection event.
- Toyota‘s assembly plants in Cambridge and Woodstock, Ontario, hosted their seventh electronic waste drop-off for team members during Earth Month (April) 2019 and collected 6,200 pounds (2,800 kilograms).
- Toyota Canada‘s head office in Toronto and Quebec regional office held events in June 2019 and collected 2,000 pounds of electronic waste and 1,500 pounds of donations.
ANN ARBOR FESTIVAL FOOTPRINT INITIATIVE
The Ann Arbor Summer Festival (A2SF) is one of the largest public multi-arts gatherings in the state of Michigan, attracting an estimated 80,000 people to the campus of the University of Michigan and downtown Ann Arbor over three and a half weeks. In partnership with Toyota, A2SF created the Festival Footprint Initiative to transform the festival into a zero-waste event. Festival goers also learned about various environmental initiatives from local nonprofits at the Festival Footprint Learning Center tent.
The Ann Arbor Summer Festival (A2SF) is one of the largest public multi-arts gatherings in the state of Michigan, attracting an estimated 80,000 people to the campus of the University of Michigan and downtown Ann Arbor over three and a half weeks. In partnership with Toyota, A2SF began the Festival Footprint Initiative with a goal of transforming the event over the next two to three years into a zero- waste event.
In 2019 – the first year the Festival Footprint Initiative was implemented – the results were remarkable. In only one year, the festival went from landfilling 100 percent of waste, to diverting over 75 percent to compost and recycling. Festival goers utilized three-stream waste receptacles and learned about various environmental initiatives from local nonprofits at the Festival Footprint Learning Center tent. All A2SF food vendors and caterers were compliant with requirements to only offer compostable containers, utensils and serve ware. Additionally, with the support of the City of Ann Arbor A2H2O program, the festival implemented water stations to reduce plastic water bottle usage. The sizeable reduction in the event’s environmental footprint after only one year demonstrates a major commitment to improving the environment by the festival and Toyota.