“WATER” is one of Toyota’s four focus areas in North America. We have developed an approach to water stewardship that conserves water, protects water resources and shares our know-how with others. Every living thing needs water to survive. What we do today to protect this precious resource creates lasting value and builds a better tomorrow for us and the planet.
INTRODUCTION TO WATER
Water is at the heart of every aspect of life. We need water for health, food, energy and economic growth, and to sustain the natural world.
Research by the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) suggests that by 2030, global water demand will be 50 percent greater than today’s reliable, accessible supply. Demand for fresh water will continue to rise as the world’s population is projected to reach nearly 9.8 billion by 2050. 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 finite resource, and population growth puts a strain on this already stressed resource. Hundreds of thousands of people are living without access to safe water and every 90 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease. Rising demand for water threatens the safety and health of people and impacts the balance of nature.
This is a problem that Toyota cannot address in isolation. Ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water for all is a shared challenge that requires a shared response. By finding ways to improve water quality, increase water-use efficiency and protect water-related ecosystems, we are helping to build a more sustainable future for society, business and the planet.
CHALLENGE 4: CONSERVE & PROTECT WATER RESOURCES
Our WATER focus area relates to Challenge 4 of Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050, which addresses conserving and protecting water resources by reducing the amount of water we need for vehicle painting and other activities, treating the water we’ve already used so that it can be reused again and again, and purifying water we return to the environment. This challenge recognizes water as a global issue that must be managed locally.
As the availability of clean water becomes more and more important to Toyota communities in drought-stressed regions of North America, we will continue to manage and preserve this critical resource. In North America, our approach to conquering this challenge involves three actions:
- Conserving water at all of our sites with a goal of becoming a net zero fresh water user (meaning we do not withdraw fresh water for non-potable uses at any of our major sites without replenishing that volume somewhere). We will continue to make auto manufacturing more efficient so that we use less water for every vehicle we produce, and we will continue to explore options for reusing and recycling water so that we withdraw less from fresh water sources.
- Protecting water resources to minimize the negative impacts our activities can have on the environment. Whenever we discharge wastewater, whether to a publicly owned treatment works or to the environment, it must be high quality. And we must be proactive to ensure that sufficient water is available to all stakeholders, including other businesses, individuals, and plants and animals.
- Sharing our know-how and engaging in outreach with stakeholders to scale up progress to the point of creating positive change. We will support efforts to conserve more water than we use. Key to our engagement is working with local communities to protect water-related ecosystems and assisting suppliers and dealers with developing water stewardship plans.
To advance us on this journey, we set a fiscal year 2021 environmental action plan target to prioritize and implement water stewardship plans for facilities in areas of high water risk. Our progress is described in the next section.
10 / TMNA's Approach to Water Stewardship
Our WATER focus area relates to Challenge 4 of Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050. This challenge recognizes water as a global issue that must be managed locally. As the availability of clean water becomes more and more important to Toyota communities in drought-stressed regions of North America, we will continue to manage and preserve this critical resource. In North America, our approach to conquering this challenge involves three actions:
Between fiscal years 2017 and 2021, Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) will:
Prioritize and implement water stewardship plans for facilities in water-stressed areas (on track)
TMNA’s water stewardship strategy focuses on facilities located in areas of water risk. We define water risk according to Aqueduct™, a tool 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 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.
We have mapped our manufacturing sites as well as a number of other locations (including offices and parts and vehicle distribution centers). 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.
Through the end of fiscal year 2021, we will be working on prioritizing these 19 sites and implementing water stewardship plans at our highest risk sites. These strategies will address water conservation (including potentially absolute water reduction targets), water quality and outreach activities with suppliers and local communities.
11 / Toyota’s Overall Water Risk in North America
* This map was generated from WRI’s AqueductTM Water Risk Atlas. 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. We mapped 73 sites in North America, including assembly and unit plants, R&D centers, parts and vehicle distribution centers, and office buildings. Not all 73 sites are visible at this resolution. Sites in close proximity appear as a single dot.
During fiscal year 2017, Toyota withdrew 1.95 billion gallons of water at more than 85 North American facilities, including assembly and unit plants, parts and vehicle distribution centers, R&D sites and offices. More than 99 percent of this water came from municipal sources (both fresh and recycled water from utilities); other sources included surface water bodies, ground water and rainwater. The amount of water we used to produce a vehicle decreased by 1 percent, from 952 gallons per vehicle in fiscal year 2016 to 946 gallons in 2017.
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). Projects at four of Toyota’s North American manufacturing plants resulted in water savings last fiscal year in excess of 43.2 million gallons, equivalent to the annual water use of 394 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):
- The assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, is recovering 10 million gallons per year. The Lexus paint shop has a reverse osmosis (RO) system that was rejecting water to the sewer (the water rejected by the RO is called concentrate). Instead of discharging the concentrate, it is now used as makeup water to reduce the RO system’s use of incoming city water.
- The assembly plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi, reduced total water use by 5 percent compared to the previous year. Team members automated one of the rinse stage cycles so that water would turn on and off when a car body entered and exited the rinse booth. They also changed the type and quantity of nozzles to reduce the flow rate. These projects are saving 4.4 million gallons per year.
- The assembly plant in Baja California (Mexico) executed seven projects that are reducing water use by almost 20 million gallons per year. Projects included using rejected water from the reverse osmosis system to clean tanks and reducing rinse time during the electrodeposition stage in the paint booth.
- The assembly plant in Woodstock, Ontario, installed an ultrafilter, which allows wastewater to be recovered and processed through a reverse osmosis system, saving 8.9 million gallons of water per year.
12 / Water Withdrawal per Vehicle Produced
Scope = All Toyota Motor North America operations, including manufacturing, logistics and of ces. Water withdrawal sources include public utilities, groundwater wells, surface water bodies and rainwater.
PROTECTING WATER RESOURCES
According to the United Nations, over 80 percent of the wastewater generated by society globally flows back into the environment without being treated or reused. Unsafe water and poor sanitation and hygiene cause over 800,000 deaths per year.
Wastewater issues are not just a concern in the developing world. For example, here in North America, “dead zones” –areas where marine life can’t survive due to low oxygen levels – form in the Chesapeake Bay, off the coast of Oregon, in Lake Erie, and in the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is caused by excess nutrient loading from poorly treated wastewater in the Mississippi River basin.
Water quality monitoring is a key component of Toyota’s environmental management systems. Some of our sites discharge wastewater that we treat and 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 that adversely affected water bodies during fiscal year 2017, 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. The river basin supports our San Antonio assembly plant and vehicle distribution center as well as our on-site suppliers.
We also recognize the importance of teaching youngsters about water quality. Each year, team members from our Indiana assembly plant work with sixth-grade students to sample lakes, rivers and streams across southwestern Indiana. See the full story here.
During the remainder of this action plan period (through the end of fiscal year 2021), we will be assessing Toyota’s North American sites in areas of high water risk. We will consider the projected future availability of water at these sites and the potential impacts of our withdrawals to other water users.
Three years ago, Toyota announced its “One Toyota” initiative to create more unified operations in North America, in part, by bringing together quality engineering, sales, marketing, financial services and corporate functions in one location. Since then, the company has invested about $1 billion to build the new corporate campus on 100 acres in Plano, Texas, and move thousands of team members and their families from California, Kentucky and beyond to North Texas. With construction complete, occupancy began in late spring 2017.
The opening of our new headquarters in Plano is an extraordinary next step in Toyota’s 60-year journey in the United States, in no small part because of Toyota’s efforts to make the campus sustainable, both during construction and while in operation. The campus, which was awarded LEED® Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in September 2017, demonstrates Toyota’s commitment to sustainability by offering:
- Exterior landscaping that reflects the native habitat and is pollinator friendly, with drought-resistant plants.
- A Texas-sized 8.79-megawatt array of more than 20,000 solar panels.
- A commitment to purchase renewable energy credits to offset all grid-purchased electricity not generated by the solar panels.
- A rainwater harvesting system to use in landscape irrigation.
The rainwater harvesting system is unique to the Plano campus. Cisterns with a total capacity of 400,000 gallons are located at each of the four parking structures and tie in to a master irrigation system that allows the water to be distributed for landscaping. Float valves in the cisterns allow for potable water to augment the system should seasonal demand ever exceed system capacity.
One of the more interesting aspects of the system is that the solar panel arrays on the parking garages have been canted to direct rainwater to the capture system.
The system is projected to collect more than 11 million gallons of water per year, more than the forecasted annual irrigation demand.
“Installing a rainwater capture system at our new headquarters in Plano was a must,” explained Douglas Beebe, general manager for Real Estate and Facilities at Toyota Motor North America, Inc. “Plano is in a water-stressed part of the country. To minimize the risk of not having enough water – and to make sure others always have enough – we designed this system to make the campus as self-sufficient as possible.”
The total annual harvest will depend on draw down and recharge cycles and timing. Ultimately, the campus is forecasted to be in at least a net zero position, meaning we will capture as much water as we use anywhere on the site.
Toyota supports community efforts to educate individuals and families and encourage water conservation. These activities help to scale up conservation efforts and make positive outcomes more impactful. For example:
- Toyota is the national sponsor of the Waterkeeper Alliance’s annual SPLASH event series. In 2017, 16 SPLASH events took place on waterways across the United States, engaging community members and outdoor enthusiasts in water-based recreational activities like swimming, paddling, kayaking and fishing. Engaging people with their local waterways is a crucial part of securing drinkable, fishable, swimmable water.
- Toyota partners with the Wyland Foundation in support of the annual National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. During April 2017, 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 U.S. Residents from 4,800 cities pledged 421,891 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 would reduce national water waste by more than 2.2 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. See the full story here.
We are also working on a plan to engage both dealerships and suppliers on water conservation efforts. Last year, we reported on the Wash Can Wait campaign run by Northern California dealers that saved more than 8 million gallons of water over the summer months. We’ll share more on these efforts in future reports.
Lastly, we support nonprofit organizations that work to provide access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. In an effort to make a difference to those affected by Hurricane Matthew, Toyota donated to DayOne Response, an organization that distributes water and sanitation products globally for disaster relief, on behalf of attendees of the 2016 Environmental Media Association’s Awards Gala. The donation provided 300,000 liters of clean drinking water for Haitian families, enough for a family of four for up to two months.