WATER is one of Toyota’s four focus areas in North America. We have developed a 360° approach to water stewardship that addresses water risks through water conservation and watershed protection activities at our sites and in our communities. Every living thing needs water to survive. What we do today to protect this precious resource creates lasting value, advancing us toward a better tomorrow for the planet.
- In 2016, we reduced water withdrawals by 99.8 million gallons. That’s equivalent to the annual water use of 911 average American families.
- Toyota dealers in Northern California saved 8.4 million gallons of water last summer by encouraging customers to skip the complimentary car wash after service.
- Since 2005, our assembly plant in Indiana has been teaching elementary school students about the importance of protecting water resources. In 2015, team members helped about 600 sixth-graders take water quality samples at approximately 100 different lakes, rivers and streams across southwestern Indiana.
As the world’s population increases, so, too, does the world’s demand for fresh water. Research by the 2030 Water Resources Group suggests that by 2030, global water demand will be 40 percent greater than today’s reliable, accessible supply. That demand relies on the small fraction of water on the planet that’s fresh water and actually available for people to use.
Water is a precious resource. So what can we do to protect and conserve the limited supply of fresh water we have? Each of us has a role to play. Individuals, elected officials, companies and communities must work together to protect and conserve the limited supply of fresh water we have — or we risk permanent damage to the health of our economy and the environment.
Across Toyota, team members have all hands on deck. Our 360° approach to water stewardship is based on an evaluation of water risks in North America and a commitment to water conservation and watershed protection. Our efforts to conserve water encompass our entire value chain, from our own operations to those of our business partners and communities. We supplement these conservation efforts with outreach activities that protect water quality and restore habitat. This is Toyota’s cycle of water stewardship, where everyone plays a part in making sure our most precious resource is available for generations to come.
During fiscal years 2014 and 2015, we conducted and refined an analysis of our North American locations and mapped them using Aqueduct™. This tool was developed by the World Resources Institute to help companies, investors, governments and communities better understand where and how water risks are emerging around the world. The centerpiece of Aqueduct is the Water Risk Atlas, which creates customizable global maps of water risk.
The Atlas combines 12 indicators in three categories (physical risk quantity, physical risk quality, and regulatory and reputational risk) to create an overall map of where and how water risks may be prevalent. The Atlas shows a total of 19 of Toyota’s North American locations, including three manufacturing plants, in areas of high overall water risk. Currently, we do not have any sites in areas of extremely high risk.
The Water Risk Atlas is helping us further focus water conservation efforts on sites in water-stressed regions, and on sites with concerns about future water availability. The Aqueduct tool is also helping us incorporate all water risk factors into our analysis, which will aid in developing future tailored strategies for certain sites and/or regions within North America.
Reduce water withdrawals 6% per vehicle by FY2016 (achieved early)
During fiscal year 2016, Toyota withdrew 1.62 billion gallons of water – a 5.8 percent decrease from the previous year – at more than 85 North American facilities, including assembly and unit plants, parts and vehicle distribution centers, R&D centers and offices.
Of the total amount of water withdrawn, 94.8 percent came from municipal sources, 5.1 percent from surface water and the remaining 0.1 percent was rain water.
Our metric counts water withdrawals, such as from a public utility or surface water. We recently completed an internal water inventory management plan — similar to a greenhouse gas inventory management plan — to document accounting practices related to our water metric and target.
Our consolidated water target, which covers all of our sites, was to reduce water withdrawals by 6 percent per vehicle produced by fiscal year 2016, from a baseline of fiscal year 2010.
We met this target in fiscal year 2015, one year ahead of schedule. At the end of fiscal year 2016, we had achieved a 14 percent reduction from our baseline in water withdrawals per vehicle produced.
To conserve water, we look for ways to reduce (use less), reuse (use what we have already used again, without further processing) and recycle (use what we have already used, after some level of treatment). By practicing the three R’s during fiscal year 2016, Toyota reduced water withdrawals in North America by 99.8 million gallons. That’s equivalent to the annual water use of 911 average American families (based on U.S. EPA’s estimate that the average American family uses about 300 gallons of water per day at home).
Examples of water savings projects implemented in fiscal year 2016:
- Team members at our assembly plant in Mississippi implemented three projects that they estimate are saving more than 10.5 million gallons per year. They put an unused tank into service to recycle water back to the cooling tower, changed the pretreatment process to use less water rinsing vehicles before they are painted, and installed a reverse osmosis concentrate recovery system that filters and purifies water so that it can be used instead of discharged.
- The air in our paint booths must be maintained at a specific temperature and humidity to ensure paint adhesion. During the winter months, when the air has a low moisture content, we humidify the air. Team members at our assembly plant in Kentucky began using deionized water from the drains that catch condensate from humidifiers to maintain water levels in the paint reclamation system. By capturing and reusing this water, the plant reduced the amount of water needed from the city and saved 2 million gallons in fiscal year 2016 (compared to fiscal year 2015).
Dealers are key business partners. We track utility cost and usage information from all of our dealers and analyze monthly changes in water use to help them identify opportunities for water savings. For example, we’ve helped dealerships identify water leaks. Dealerships have vast amounts of piping, so finding and repairing a water leak is crucial to their water efficiency efforts.
We also encourage dealers to pursue LEED® certification and guide them through the process. LEED is a point-based system administered by the U.S. and Canadian Green Building Councils promoting a whole-building approach to sustainable construction and remodeling. The 54 Toyota and Lexus dealers that have achieved LEED certification (as of June 2016) have all implemented water savings projects. Many of these dealers applied for certification under the LEED NC (new construction) standard, which required a plan to achieve a minimum of 20 percent water savings. There was also extra credit for getting to 30 percent savings, which several of our dealers accomplished (including Mark Miller, Kendall-Eugene and Rockwall, all Toyota dealerships). Click here for a list of LEED-certified Toyota and Lexus dealers.
SPOTLIGHT: The Wash Can Wait Campaign
With California experiencing one of the most severe droughts on record, Toyota dealerships in Northern California partnered with their customers to help conserve water through a program called “The Wash Can Wait.” During July and August 2015, the program offered customers the opportunity to opt out of a complimentary car wash following a service appointment. Most Toyota service centers provide customers with complimentary car washes with each visit. On average, a dealer uses 50 gallons of water per wash.
Of the Northern California dealers that offer car washes, 90 percent participated in the two-month campaign. More than 168,700 customers opted out of car washes, saving 8.4 million gallons of water.
The opt-out program was also launched with dealers across Southern California. In total, more than 70 percent of Toyota’s California dealers participated in the program across the state. (The remaining 30 percent of dealers either don’t have an on-site car wash facility, or they use recycled water for car washes as part of their existing conservation programs.)
“I always thought the car wash was a nice touch, but I understand the reality of the situation,” said Jean Morgan, owner of a 2004 Sienna and a Tustin Toyota customer. “It is my honor to partner with Toyota. They always have the bigger picture in mind.”
As an extension of the program, Toyota joined forces with Save Our Water, a partnership between the Association of California Water Agencies and the California Department of Water Resources, to create educational material for display in the dealership and to hand out to customers. This material encouraged customers to conserve water at home and gave them 10 tips on how to do so. Save Our Water is dedicated to helping residents reduce water use on a daily basis.
“Toyota’s announcement to reduce water use should be applauded. Every Californian should take a similarly thoughtful approach to how they use our most precious resource – water – during this historic drought,” said Jennifer Persike, deputy executive director for external affairs and operations for the Association of California Water Agencies.
Even though the official campaign has ended, 34 Northern California dealers chose to continue with the program. These dealers are advancing Toyota’s commitment to water stewardship and continuing to partner with customers to conserve water. “It’s exciting to see dealers so passionate about this program and truly inspiring when they take it a step further,” said Steve Waddell, vehicle operations manager for Toyota Motor North America.
Companies can be active stewards of a healthy environment by supporting community efforts. That’s why Toyota partners with the Wyland Foundation in support of the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. During April 2016, mayors across the country once again asked residents to make a commitment to conserve water and cut pollution by taking part in a national contest aimed at drastically slashing water use across the nation.
During the fifth annual National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, U.S. mayors encouraged their residents to make pledges online to reduce water usage. Overall, residents from 4,100 cities in 50 states pledged 404,407 specific actions over the next year to change the way they use water in their homes, yards and communities.
By sticking to their commitments, the collective efforts of these residents will reduce national water waste by more than 1.9 billion gallons.
The challenge addresses the growing importance of educating individuals about the many ways they can conserve water — for example, by swapping out their lawns in favor of drought-resistant native plants, fixing leaks and looking at how we use water for food and manufacturing. As prospects of water reduction mandates grow in the U.S., the campaign provides cities with a way to engage residents with positive incentives and raises the collective water I.Q. of the nation. Pledges are designed to promote water sustainability and improve water quality. Click here for the full story.
Toyota’s efforts to use less water are only part of our approach to water stewardship. Water is a finite resource, but healthy watersheds need more than adequate flow. They also need clean water and the right balance of animals and plants. To promote healthy watersheds, Toyota participates in a number of educational and biodiversity efforts.
We know the importance of water quality monitoring. Some of our sites discharge wastewater that we monitor to meet local, state and federal regulations and to ensure we don’t negatively impact water bodies. In fact, Toyota requires all manufacturing sites to operate below discharge permit limits by an average of 20 percent. There were no unplanned discharges of wastewater during fiscal year 2016 and no water bodies were adversely affected by Toyota’s wastewater discharges.
Toyota’s Texas assembly plant makes an annual donation to support one of the San Antonio River Authority’s monitoring stations. The River Authority was established in 1937 to protect the San Antonio River Basin, an area covering over 3,600 square miles.
As part of our partnership with Waterkeeper Alliance, Toyota served as the official sponsor – and Toyota Mirai the official vehicle – of the Keep It Clean comedy benefit hosted by Jimmy Kimmel on April 21, 2016 in Hollywood. Proceeds from the show are helping more than 290 Waterkeeper organizations defend rivers, bays, streams and coastlines worldwide from pollution.
We also know the importance of teaching youngsters about water quality. Each year, team members from our Indiana assembly plant work with sixth-grade students to sample about 100 different lakes, rivers and streams across southwestern Indiana. Monitoring data is uploaded into the World Water Monitoring Challenge™ database. Click here to read the full story.
Many species live on or near water bodies. Team members participate in a variety of events to help keep waterways free of debris. For example, Toyota supports National Public Lands Day (NPLD), the largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the U.S. During NPLD, team members help clean up parks, streams and recreation areas; many of these events involve cleanup of a water body.
This year’s middle school winner of the Lexus Eco Challenge conducted research on how to prevent algae from reaching a bloom state in their local reservoirs to help reduce damage to the ecosystem. Instead of using harmful chemicals, the team tested various plants in an effort to find the best species to absorb the excess phosphorus and nitrogen that cause algal blooms.