For Toyota, "Materials" refers to everything used to make a vehicle, whether it ends up in the final product or not.

Materials Highlights Highlights for this Section
  • Toyota Motor Sales won the 2013 WasteWise Large Business Partner of the Year award from the U.S. EPA. This marks the fourth consecutive year Toyota sales and logistics facilities have received a WasteWise award.
  • Toyota's North American facilities reduced, reused, recycled or composted over 95 percent of non-regulated waste during calendar year 2013.
  • Toyota has 32 North American facilities that meet the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council's definition of a "Zero Waste Business" — one with a 90 percent or greater diversion of all waste from landfill, incineration or the environment.
Watch how TMMK will soon be using power generated from landfill gassescarbon- Watch how Toyota’s parts logistics operation reduced the amount of packaging needed for windshields.

Some materials, such as steel and seat cushions, become part of the vehicle; others such as cedardraw oil are only used to make a process work; still others end up as waste. Within Toyota's core area of focus known as "Materials," activities during fiscal year 2014 through 2016 are focused on chemical management and waste minimization.


Chemical management addresses Toyota's use of certain chemicals of concern in our products and manufacturing processes, as well as the shipment of items (such as used hybrid batteries) that contain chemicals of concern. Every part used to produce vehicles, from seat cushions to the dashboard to exterior paint, is made up of chemicals. Toyota's engineers manage chemical content at the vehicle design stage, where we have the most influence over the composition of our products. As a result, we are able to minimize the impacts to the environment from the use of chemicals both in operations and at the end of a vehicle's life.

Around the world there are a number of regulations and voluntary agreements concerning the use of chemicals in vehicles. These regulations either restrict or prohibit the use of certain chemicals, or require their use to be reported to a government agency. Toyota fully complies with these global regulations and voluntary agreements, with the intent of reducing the potential risks from chemical use in our vehicles and in all aspects of our business.

Chemical Management Target: Implement IMDS data management system enterprise wide (on track)

Toyota uses the International Material Data System (IMDS) as the primary tool for tracking the chemical composition of parts and accessories. Suppliers are required to enter into IMDS detailed information about the chemical composition of parts and accessories. Through this system, Toyota tracks the use of chemicals on the Global Automotive Declarable Substance List (GADSL), a list developed and maintained by a global automotive stakeholder committee, which Toyota is chairing this year.

Use of IMDS is particularly crucial for ensuring compliance with international recyclability and chemical management laws (such as those in China, Korea, Europe and Japan). Therefore, we adopted IMDS in North America to facilitate tracking and verification of compliance with these laws for vehicles assembled here and exported to international markets. For example, Toyota is exporting the Avalon, Camry, Sienna and Venza from North America to South Korea. Data collected with IMDS is used to verify compliance with South Korea's recyclability laws.

We have collected IMDS data for all vehicles we produce in North America. Our recent experience with using IMDS in North America is helping us better understand its benefit for overall chemical management. Beginning in July 2014, suppliers must report IMDS data for all new production parts following drawing release.

Substances of Concern


Our strategy for managing substances of concern (SOCs) initially focused on four heavy metals known to cause environmental and health effects: hexavalent chromium, mercury, lead and cadmium. In 2004, Toyota made a voluntary commitment in North America to minimize these four heavy metals found in parts and accessories to the de minimis levels specified in the European Union's "Directive on End-of-Life Vehicles" — even though vehicles were not being exported to Europe. After working closely with suppliers, parts and accessories in North America have not contained hexavalent chromium, mercury, lead or cadmium above levels outlined in the European Union's Directive since 2007.


Materials in the vehicle interior, such as plastics, leather, textiles, glues, sealants and additives, can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) even after manufacturing. This is commonly recognized as the "new car smell." We work with suppliers to develop alternatives that emit lower levels of VOCs in the vehicle cabin. For example, we developed new tape systems to reduce toluene emissions. More recently, we have been working with suppliers on reducing formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, which form during leather retanning and finishing.

The Prius, Prius Plug—in Hybrid, Prius c, Prius v and Camry Hybrid offer available SofTex-trimmed heated front seats. SofTex material weighs about half as much as genuine leather, and its manufacturing process generates 99 percent fewer VOCs than that of conventional synthetic leather.

Toyota's Materials Engineering Department has been studying low VOC paints in the cured form for interior components. We generally use waterborne paints due to their lower VOC content, but studies have shown some waterborne paints contain residual amounts of VOCs, such as aldehydes, in the cured form. We identified several paints with a negligible contribution to the overall VOCs of plastic parts. Those paints are already in use by Toyota for interior parts, and we plan to increase their use in the future.

Auto manufacturers are working toward one global standard to test emissions of VOCs in vehicle cabins at the component level. In the meantime, a voluntary standard for the full vehicle cabin exists from the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA). All 2014 model year North American-produced vehicles conform to this standard.

South Korea and China recently established VOC requirements for passenger vehicles. Toyota has taken steps to ensure the vehicles being exported to those countries, including Venza, Camry, Sienna and Avalon, meet their requirements.


Copper in brake pads is to be reduced by 2021 to the required de minimis levels, in alignment with recent legislation in Washington State. The legislation was created to address concerns about copper found in runoff water. We are working with suppliers on finding a suitable alternative.


Decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE) is a flame retardant used in many products, including vehicles. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and chemical suppliers reached a voluntary agreement to phase out production of decaBDE by December 31, 2013. We worked with suppliers to develop a replacement for decaBDE that meets the federal motor vehicle safety standard FMVSS302 on flammability of interior materials. DecaBDE was successfully phased out January 1, 2013.

Renewable / Recycled / Recyclable Materials

The substitution of vehicle parts containing chemicals of concern with those made from renewable, recycled and recyclable materials reduces risks from the use of chemicals of concern. Plus, over the course of a vehicle's life cycle, renewable, recycled and recyclable materials have a smaller greenhouse gas footprint and generate less waste than their alternatives. Toyota uses these materials where practical.

Over the last several years, Toyota has evaluated numerous materials made from renewable resources to assess their performance, appearance, safety and mass production capability. In addition, the automotive industry is working on finding recyclable and renewable alternatives to petroleum-derived plastics, which would reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Toyota is working with SAE's International Green Technology Systems Group on characterizing bio-based materials. This is part of a larger effort by SAE to serve as a guiding body for consensus standards development for environmental sustainability issues in the automotive sector. We have been using bio-based plastics — plastics derived either wholly or in part from plant materials — in numerous parts and components for over a decade. For example, we use bio-based plastics in the seat cushions in the Toyota Prius, Corolla, Matrix and RAV4, and in the Lexus RX 350 and CT 200h. We will continue to use these materials where appropriate.


Minimizing waste and conserving natural resources are fundamental to Toyota's goal of producing vehicles efficiently. Toyota team members and associates focus on reducing all kinds of waste — from office trash to cafeteria scraps and industrial waste — using the practices we all know: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Waste Target: Develop and test a new waste metric (on track)

As part of Toyota's fiscal year 2014-2016 environmental action plan, we set a target to develop and test a new key performance indicator (KPI) for waste. During 2014, we defined and agreed to "the 3R Rate" as our new KPI. Toyota's 3R Rate is defined as:

(Reduce + Reuse + Recycle) / (Reduce + Reuse + Recycle + Recover + Landfill)

This new KPI reflects the evolution of Toyota's waste management metrics, which focused initially on reduction in waste to landfill, then on reduction in non-saleable waste. Toyota's use of the 3R Rate encourages focus on all three R's — reduce, reuse, recycle. Simply measuring waste generation would ignore end-of-life management and does not adequately account for reuse.

"Our new 3R Rate uses the same waste hierarchy promoted by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council: Reduce > Reuse > Recycle > Recover Clean > Disposal," said Ryan McMullan, Environmental and Safety Manager at Toyota Motor Sales and head of Toyota's North American Waste Focus Group. "We see this organization as the leading industry group for waste reduction thinking." Toyota became a founding member of the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) in December 2013.

US Zero Waste Business Council

In the USZWBC hierarchy, disposal includes landfilling as well as "dirty" forms of recovery such as burning waste to recover energy. "Toyota's 3R Rate is unique in that it shifts the focus from the end of the hierarchy on landfill to the top of the hierarchy to reduce/reuse/recycle," explained Ryan. "It also doesn't say that incineration, or even burning waste to recover energy, is equal to recycling."

USZWBC defines a "Zero Waste Business" as one with a 90 percent or greater diversion of all waste from landfill, incineration or the environment. Toyota has 32 North American facilities that meet this definition, including eight manufacturing plants.

As part of developing the 3R Rate, Ryan and his Waste Focus Group established a standard process to measure waste reduction and reuse, both on a project and process basis. "Across North America, reduction and reuse projects are being implemented, and we've already measured service parts packaging reductions," said Ryan. "But we haven't been able to capture reductions elsewhere. This process will allow us to better quantify all reduction and reuse activities."

Ryan presented Toyota's reduce/reuse calculation methodology at the USZWBC annual meeting last year. This methodology is now being adopted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI oversees the creation, promulgation and use of thousands of norms and guidelines that directly impact businesses in nearly every sector. Toyota's methodology will become part of ANSI's landfill free/zero waste standard, which is due to be finalized in 2015.

Toyota's 3R Rate was 95.3 percent using calendar year 2013 data. (We are using calendar year data instead of fiscal year data to align with EPA's WasteWise program.) This data covers all North American assembly and unit plants, plus U.S. parts and vehicle distribution centers and sales offices. Going forward, Toyota will roll in the remaining North American sites. We will also expand our capture of reduction and reuse activities.

Ultimately, our work on developing and testing this new KPI will prepare us for setting a 3R Rate target in our next five-year environmental action plan.

Figure 25

Reduce / Reuse / Recycling Initiatives

The U.S. EPA's WasteWise program helps organizations and businesses apply sustainable materials management practices to reduce municipal and select industrial wastes. Toyota joined the program in 2009.

2013 WasteWise Large Business Partner of the Year

The U.S. EPA recognized Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) with the 2013 WasteWise Large Business Partner of the Year award. This title marks the second time TMS has received the Large Business Partner of the Year designation and the fourth consecutive year Toyota sales and logistics facilities have received a WasteWise award. The WasteWise awards program recognizes organizations' efforts to reduce refuse, increase recycling and purchase environmentally preferable products.

Imagine lugging more than 1.9 million trash cans to the curb on trash day. That's what TMS has avoided doing over the last four years. Since 2009, Toyota has reduced or avoided 1.9 million trash cans worth of waste at its sales and logistics facilities across the U.S.

"Toyota focuses on continually improving how we do business," says Chris Reynolds, Group Vice President and General Counsel at TMS. "By reducing waste and increasing efficiency, we save environmental resources and lower costs for both Toyota and our customers."

Collectively over the past four years, TMS facilities recycled or avoided production of more than 304 million pounds of trash and consistently diverted 98 percent of their annual waste stream from landfill and incineration. How much trash is that? That's equal to the weight of 1,843 Endeavor space shuttles.

To accomplish this feat, Toyota has to think outside the box. For example, when North American Parts Center, Kentucky (NAPCK) delivery trucks drop off parts to the regional parts distributions centers, they're loaded with plastic bags and plastic stretch wrap for the return trip to NAPCK. These types of plastics are often difficult to recycle, but the parts center sells the bulk plastic to a nearby manufacturer that uses recycled wood and plastic to make composite patio materials.


Instead of disposing of used oil from the stamping machines at Toyota's Indiana assembly plant, the oil is reused in the blanking presses. Blanking presses are used to cut coils of steel into flat sheets used by the forming lines. The steel is washed with cedardraw oil, then cut into smaller flat sheets known as blanks. The blanks are stacked on a pallet, where a forklift picks them up and delivers them to the stamping machines for forming into vehicle components.

Recycling the oil is expected to reduce the purchase of new cedardraw oil for the blanking presses by about 80 percent, or 7,000 gallons per year.


Recycling programs for paper, aluminum cans, and glass and plastic bottles are almost universal in our offices. But composting has presented a bit more of a challenge. Part of the reason is space — many of our offices don't have the room to set up their own composting facility. The other part of the reason is availability — there just aren't that many compost vendors within a reasonable distance of many of our sites that make composting a viable option.

That's why we're particularly excited to have brought two new composting programs online over the past year. In March 2014, Toyota's sales headquarters campus in southern California started a compost collection program, and in the first month, just over 5 tons of compost were collected from the two kitchens on campus. Over the course of a full year, the program has the potential to increase the headquarters campus recycling rate by 5 percent. Compost was given away to associates on Earth Day to raise awareness of this new initiative.

When our Lexus Eastern Area Office relocated to Parsippany, New Jersey, a centralized waste, recyclables and compost program was implemented. This is our first sales office to have centralized collection of waste and recyclables. All organics are sent to the nearest compost vendor, a facility in Delaware that's less than 150 miles away. Thanks to efforts to recycle, conserve energy and water, and use sustainable building practices, Toyota's Lexus Eastern Area Office achieved Platinum LEED® certification in 2014 from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Click here for more information on the site's energy efficiency initiatives.


Roughly 40 years' worth of mineable copper resources remain worldwide. Global consumption is growing, driven particularly by infrastructure-related demand for wiring in emerging markets. In addition, large amounts of copper are used in the motors of hybrid vehicles, which are increasingly popular, especially here in North America.

Amid fears that the global supply of copper will eventually run out, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) developed a pioneering technology to recycle this resource from vehicles.

The process involves crushing a vehicle's wiring assembly, then sorting the copper by examining differences in buoyancy and using magnets. This method produces copper with a purity of 99.96 percent, pure enough to be reused in vehicles.

Toyota began using this method last year and has already used recycled copper for about 200,000 vehicles. The plan is to increase annual production of recycled copper to 1,000 tons, enough for about two million cars by 2016.

TMC developed this world-first technology in collaboration with Yazaki Corporation, Toyota Tsusho Corporation, and eight other companies.


Metal shavings, known as grinding swarf, are generated by part grinders in the machining department at Toyota's engine plant in Alabama. This accounts for 41 percent of the plant's non-saleable waste, making it their largest waste stream. The swarf was once recycled with other scrap metal, but in 2010 the recycler stopped taking this material. The plant then had to properly dispose of it. Team members immediately started looking for an alternative. After evaluating several options, they finally found a cement manufacturer that could use the swarf as an ingredient to make cement. More than 1.1 million pounds of this material are now reused each year instead of being disposed.

Office Chair Donations


When it was time to replace office chairs at Toyota Canada locations, associates looked for an alternative to simply throwing them away. They kept 758 chairs from ending up in landfills. The old chairs were given to local charities, or, if they weren't in good enough condition for reuse, sent for proper dismantling and recycling. Toyota's donation of 449 chairs to the Salvation Army created funds to help maintain the nonprofit's many programs and social services.

SPOTLIGHT: Training Reimagined — The Environmental Dojo at TABC

Environmental compliance is not the most exciting subject, but it is still crucial to train team members on environmental regulations. Keeping training material fresh and interesting is always a challenge, especially for compliance topics such as proper handling, storage and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste, spill response, chemical management, and product VOC limits. Understanding these topics and adhering to federal, state and local regulations are an important part of Toyota's efforts to minimize waste and reduce the environmental impacts of manufacturing.

TABC, our plant in Long Beach, California, supplies components for the Toyota Tacoma, which is manufactured at Toyota's assembly plants in Texas and Mexico. Their traditional training method of using PowerPoint slides was not working. Employees were not responding well to the training and were not retaining the information.

A countermeasure was needed. So TABC's Environmental team — David Cooper, Thomas Lui and Michael Fourcand — decided to try a different approach.

They created an "Environmental Dojo" (a dojo is a training facility), a room dedicated to environmental training. Now, instead of sitting in a conference room listening to a lecture, students are on their feet participating in the training. The students interact in a bright room with colorful exhibits. Eight interactive lab exhibits focus on chemical storage, VOC limits in paint, waste disposal, universal waste, aerosol waste, hazardous waste and spill response.

The original hour-long lecture has been shortened to a 10-minute introductory presentation, and then the class members participate in labs that allow them to demonstrate their knowledge. For some exhibits, students have only 60 seconds to demonstrate their knowledge. At the waste disposal exhibit, for example, seven pictures of waste streams must be matched with the correct disposal drum. At the aerosol exhibit, team members must identify at least six instances of hazardous waste management noncompliance.

The timed competition motivates the team members as they move through the exhibits, and they are ….learning!

TABC's goal is to have every team member train in the environmental dojo. With a class size of only eight, this means they need to host 60 training sessions. Their first class was held in March 2014. In less than one month, they trained 170 team members by holding five to six classes per day.

This course is a total departure from the traditional method of environmental training. It shows that innovation at Toyota goes beyond technology and reaches every aspect of our business.

And the best news is, the dojo works. Team members are applying what they learn, and the number of waste management issues has already decreased. TABC's environmental department has received very positive feedback from those who have gone through the dojo. The experience is engaging, interactive and effective.

The dojo has been so successful that some of Toyota's other North American plants, including those in Mexico and Canada, have visited to learn more about the dojo and TABC's approach. It's only a matter of time before the dojo is replicated at other North American sites. What started as a small idea affecting less than 500 people is poised to become a new way of training for thousands of employees across the entire region.


A core part of our environmental strategy involves outreach. When it comes to waste minimization, this means we encourage team members and associates to find ways to broadcast Toyota's commitment to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle at home, in their communities, and to our customers.

Over the last 20 years, Toyota has helped associates, team members and surrounding communities recycle and properly dispose of household waste. During designated collection days, we collect electronic waste, appliances, paint, and other household items that are difficult to recycle or dispose. At the same time, we also collect items such as clothing and eye glasses that can be donated to those in need.

Since 1994, Toyota has collected over 1.6 million pounds or 805 short tons. That's equal to 529 Prius vehicles or 132 elephants or 10 space shuttles. All reusable items were donated and the rest recycled or, in the case of hazardous waste, disposed of properly. Click here for the full story.

Additionally, associates from Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI) participate in an annual "lunchtime make-over" of the outdoor area near the organization's Head Office. During Earth Week 2014, they stuffed a record number of 104 bags full of garbage. They separated out recyclables, keeping a significant portion of what was collected from ending up in a landfill. Click here for the full story.

These efforts ensure waste is properly disposed, help others recycle and keep usable materials out of landfills, and remove trash from the environment.


Toyota and Lexus Financial Services kicked off their third annual "GoGreen" campaign, encouraging customers to sign up for paperless billing statements. Between January 15th and March 31st of 2014, for every customer signed up to "GoGreen," Toyota Financial Services donated $5 (up to $200,000) to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

It didn't take long to reach the $200,000 mark. Over 857,000 customers have signed up for paperless billing since the program began, saving over 319,000 pounds of paper annually. "Our ‘GoGreen' campaign has been a great success," says Karen Ideno, Vice President of Product and Marketing. "We started this program less than a year after launching paperless billing, and a record number of customers have signed up."