TMNA uses the World Resources Institute (WRI) AqueductTM tool to evaluate water stress. The centerpiece of Aqueduct is the Water Risk Atlas, which combines 13 indicators covering aspects of quantity, quality and reputational risk into a composite overall risk score. Our analysis is based on the current version of the Atlas (Version 3.0, released in 2019).
Toyota’s North American locations have been mapped, including manufacturing plants, R&D centers, vehicle and parts distribution centers, service training centers and offices. The sites were then ranked based on their overall risk score. According to the Atlas, 10 of Toyota‘s North American locations scored in the “high” risk level and two in the “extremely high” risk level.
In fiscal year 2021, these 10 sites represented 8 percent of the water Toyota withdrew in North America. We have prioritized two sites – the assembly plant in Baja California and a region office on the West Coast – for piloting water stewardship plans. Despite disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued our planning and will begin developing the assembly plant’s water stewardship program in fiscal year 2022. A plan for the region office will follow. The water stewardship plans will address water conservation (including potentially absolute water reduction targets), water quality, and outreach activities with suppliers and local communities.
Beginning in fiscal year 2022, we have a new five-year target to reduce water use by 3 percent per unit of vehicle production. This target moves us along the path to achieving the 2050 challenge of conserving water.
During fiscal year 2021, Toyota withdrew 1.5 billion gallons of water across our North American facilities, including manufacturing plants, R&D centers, vehicle and parts distribution centers, service training centers and offices. This is a 14 percent reduction from fiscal year 2020 levels, mainly due to a decrease in vehicle production during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, sites across the region continued to find ways to use less water. For example, when vehicles enter any of our paint shops, they need to be degreased and rinsed thoroughly before painting. These steps require significant amounts of high quality water. Toyota’s assembly plant in Baja California, Mexico, switched from using fresh water during the degreasing steps to using recycled water from the plant’s existing reverse osmosis (RO) system, which is filtered to meet production standards and reduces annual fresh water use by almost 309,000 gallons.
At Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Cambridge, Ontario, the welding shop uses water to cool down welding equipment. The old temperature control system maintained cooling water at a constant temperature. Installing an auto control system that manages cooling water temperature based on weather conditions and time of year resulted in estimated annual savings of 385,000 gallons of water – a 34 percent reduction in water use for the weld shop. In addition to saving water, this project also reduced the amount of chemicals needed for water treatment by 25 percent.
See “Water” in Performance for more detailed water data
At Toyota’s plant in Indiana, a facility expansion means the plant will need more water to paint the increasing number of vehicles being assembled. The plant’s existing infrastructure isn’t adequate to carry more water, so instead, team members have been identifying innovative ways to conserve.
One opportunity for water savings was found in the paint shop in the East part of the plant, which uses nearly half – 48 percent – of all water used at the site. Before a welded vehicle body can be painted, water sprays are used during a three-step pretreat process that degreases and removes dirt, rinses, and applies an anticorrosion base coat. If the surface of the vehicle body isn’t clean, paint defects can occur.
New microfiltration modules have been added to allow the wastewater streams to cascade from one pretreat step to the next, thereby eliminating the need for introducing fresh water at each step. Fresh water use during pretreat has been reduced by 75 percent, and the new process cleans the vehicle bodies so well that fewer paint defects occur.
Cascading these streams is saving an estimated 54.3 million gallons of fresh water per year. That’s equal to the amount needed to supply drinking water to the entire state of Indiana for one month.
This innovation is one part of addressing the plant’s water capacity issues. Additional activities are expected to further improve the water capacity issue.
Water quality is another key component of Toyota's approach to water stewardship. Some of our sites discharge wastewater, which we monitor and treat to meet local, state and federal regulations and to avoid negatively impacting water bodies. In fact, Toyota, as part of our enhanced environmental management system, requires all manufacturing sites to operate below wastewater discharge permit limits by an average of 20 percent.
Toyota supports community efforts to educate individuals and families about water conservation and the importance of protecting water resources. These activities help scale up conservation efforts and make positive outcomes more impactful.
For the 10th consecutive year, the Wyland Foundation and Toyota presented the National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation. The campaign, held in April 2021, encouraged residents across America to make small changes in their lives to better manage our water resources and improve the health of our oceans, lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands. For more information on this campaign, see "Wyland Foundation."
Through its Drive4Five Campaign, Toyota awarded an impact grant to the Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) to offer environmental science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming through place-based, hands-on learning. During the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, more than 1,000 students in grades 4 through 12 from a dozen different schools, mostly in the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti school districts in Michigan, participated in HRWC’s Streamside Education Program, a series of stream ecology lessons. Students studied the physical characteristics of the streambed and banks and took measurements of water quality parameters, such as temperature, conductivity and turbidity. Students also learned how to collect and identify aquatic insects, what the organisms reveal about stream health, and how their physical adaptations allow them to live in dynamic water systems.
Early in the 2020-2021 school year, it became apparent that many teachers were struggling to provide virtual and hybrid (virtual and in-person) content to their students. HRWC’s STEM education team, with funding from Toyota, worked with some of those teachers to create virtual content, including videos, posters and student pages explaining how to test for water quality parameters and what those parameters mean about the health of a waterway.
As one parent noted, the virtual streamside ecology programming was the highlight of her 4th grader’s year. Her class at Dexter Community Schools learned about Mill Creek (a tributary of the Huron River), studied stormwater pollution, raised trout for release into the river, and learned to tie flies for fly fishing. “Before the pandemic, Dexter students visited Mill Creek every week and studied nature, art, research and personal reflection, which enriched them as thoughtful outdoor observers. Then, 2020 radically changed how we approach education. HRWC responded by adapting our outings with pandemic-safe alternatives. We are thankful for HRWC’s support of our students and teachers, and its ongoing work to improve Mill Creek and the Huron River,” explained Mr. Barnes, a teacher at Dexter Community Schools.
HRWC supplemented its virtual programming with a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) campaign to give students and others the opportunity to conduct stewardship activities at local waterways and parks. With funding from Toyota and using social media, HRWC created and promoted how-to videos and checklists to encourage river lovers to conduct their own river cleanups. Additional cleanups on land, such as in parks and neighborhoods, were also promoted to increase accessibility of the DIY campaign.
One recent Dexter High School graduate, Tony Golin, became very involved in DIY river cleanups. He brought out his family as well as his water polo teammates to help clean up a section of the Huron River just below Dexter. Tony’s idea to dive for river trash – a specialized talent that he and his teammates share – was a unique method to collect trash from the bottom of the riverbed. Tony logged upwards of 450 hours, and his family and teammates logged at least another 200 hours. Not only did Tony make a significant contribution to cleaning the river, but he also helped create more connections between HRWC and the Dexter school system.
Thanks to Tony Golin and his water polo teammates, diving cleanups became more common. Joe Spaly and his son dove for trash in Barton Pond, which is the drinking water source for the city of Ann Arbor, and collected cell phones, sunglasses, wristwatches and other miscellaneous items.