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Toyota North America Release Environment Report: Prius Maker Notes Sustainability Initiatives in US, Canada & Mexico

Challenge Commitment Progress, the Environmental Report released by Toyota North America is a review of the vehicle manufacturer’s efforts in environmental sustainability across business locations in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Toyota’s Earth Charter and Environmental Action Plan

Toyota is well known for its lean manufacturing processes and “The Toyota Way”; however the company is also committed to being a socially responsible company. This is evidenced in the existence and support of Toyota’s Earth Charter and the five year environmental action plan. Toyota’s Earth Charter calls for voluntary action that contributes positively and cooperatively to society and provides for innovation in environmental technologies.

Environmental Impacts Throughout Vehicle’s Life Cycle

Toyota North America has taken a life cycle approach to determining environmental impacts of motor vehicles. A vehicle’s life cycle and associated environmental impacts have been divided into three phases:

  • development and design
  • production and logistics
  • use and end of life

Energy Use and Climate Change Key Environmental Impacts For Toyota North America

In Challenge Commitment Progress, Toyota North America notes that there are four key areas of environmental impact for the company:

  • energy use and climate change
  • recycling
  • harmful substances
  • air quality

Added to the key areas are the concepts of environmental management and cooperation with society, which form part of the company’s global vision and The Toyota Way. The six areas listed form the basis of the Environmental Report.

Hybrid Vehicles Improve Fuel Efficiency and Lower Emissions

The use of innovation in technology is part of Toyota North America’s strategy to reduce energy use and combat climate change. The production of hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, plays a significant role in reducing the environmental impact of driving.

Toyota North America report that for 2009 models, the fuel efficiency standards set down by both Canadian and United States authorities will be exceeded. In both Canada and the United States, the Toyota Prius has been recognised as the most fuel efficient vehicle on the market.

Reducing energy use at plants in North America is another strategy of Toyota North America. In 2009, the company was awarded its fifth Energy Star Award from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Toyota North America recognises that reducing energy consumption has a beneficial financial effect as well as beneficial environmental effects.

Waste Reduction, Recycling and the Use of Renewable Resources

Respecting the environment is a key concept in the global vision of Toyota and the North American branch of the vehicle manufacturer is developing bio-plastics for use in vehicle models to decrease the reliance on non-renewable materials.

In manufacturing plants, Toyota use a system known as the 5Rs, refine, reduce, reuse, recycle and recover energy, to drive waste reduction and recycling efforts. At the Buffalo, West Virginia plant, recycling efforts have been combined with charitable giving. Waste plastic from the plant is collected and given to a local community development center. The center sells the plastic and the income is used to fund rehabilitation programs for disabled people.

Harmful Substances and Air Quality

Toyota North America is working to reduce the use of harmful heavy metals and volatile organic compounds in vehicle manufacturing. The use of volatile organic compounds in vehicle interiors may have harmful health effects.

Vehicles burning fuel contribute to reducing air quality through exhaust emissions of pollutants. Across its gasoline range, Toyota North America meet all tailpipe emission standards in North America and in the United States, the company is a leader in the industry for emission compliance rates.

Environmental Management System and Cooperation With Society

ISO 14001 certification of the company’s environmental management system was obtained at the San Antonio, Texas and Woodstock, Ontario manufacturing plants in 2008; together with re-certification of eight logistics sites and the continued certification of all other manufacturing and logistics sites in North America. Guidelines for suppliers and training of dealerships in environmental issues are other environmental management projects undertaken by Toyota North America.

Toyota North America has partnered with a variety of organisations to promote environmental stewardship and environmental education. Corporate volunteering has formed part of Toyota North America’s support.

Progress has been made towards the goals set out in Toyota North America’s five-year Environmental Action Plan and the company is a leader in providing innovative technological based solutions to the issues of climate change and the environmental impact of motor vehicles.

Tim Wildes
Insightful articles on the environment, pollution, energy, recycling, green living, climate change and much more
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