At Toyota, Protecting the Environment is Second Nature

April 17, 2012
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The Ionator – With a lethal spritz, the Ionator cleans dirt from surfaces and terminates germs. Thanks to cleaning systems similar to this one, Toyota Motor Sales buys fewer chemical cleaners.
The Ionator is not a cyborg assassin. But when it comes to wiping out dirt and germs, it’s as treacherous as The Terminator.
 
Press the water gun’s trigger, and it converts tap water into ionized water. Shoot at a target, and the ionized water cleans dirt from the surface and pulverizes germs.
 
“It turns plain water into a cleaning solution,” says Mark Yamauchi, Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) sustainability strategy manager. “This allows us to reduce the amount of chemical cleaners we buy.”
  
The Ionator is just one weapon in Toyota’s eco arsenal. To help protect the environment, the company is also pouncing on pollution, slashing energy and annihilating waste.
 
Recognizing those efforts, the Environmental Protection Agency named TMS the 2011 WasteWise Large Business Partner of the Year. Only one large business in the nation receives the award each year for conserving resources and preventing waste.
 
Particularly aggressive in the war against waste is North American Parts Operations, which had a 91.7 percent recycling rate last year. Only 4.6 pounds of waste went to landfills for every 1,000 parts shipped.
 
Toyota Logistics Services had an even higher 95.5 percent recycling rate. Vehicle distribution centers (VDC) sent less than 4 ounces of waste to landfills for each vehicle processed, less than the weight of a deck of cards.
 
How’d they do it? What else is Toyota doing?
 
Here’s a snapshot, illustrating the kinds of kaizens associates continue to undertake to eliminate muda (waste) and conserve resources:
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Sunroof – Solar panels at TMS South Campus are powerful energy savers.
  • Two wire harnesses used to be discarded with every installation of remote engine starters and glass breakage sensors on four-cylinder Highlanders at the Princeton VDC. Associates now recycle both items instead of sending them to landfills.
  • After launching a lunchroom waste-composting program, Georgetown VDC associates noticed that the small plastic wrappers protecting utensils were contaminating the organic-waste containers. They installed utensil dispensers, eliminating the plastic wrappers while keeping the utensils clean.
  • At TMS headquarters, dining centers replaced single-use to-go containers with durable eco-tainers that can be washed and reused. Campus catering also replaced disposable plastic utensils with Spudware, made from potatoes. And leftover cooking grease is converted into biofuel.
  • Rooftop solar panel systems at TMS South Campus, the New York Parts Distribution Center and North American Parts Center, California (NAPCC) not only conserve energy but also help reduce pollution. The NAPCC solar panels alone save 2.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually – the same as taking 236 cars off the road for an entire year.
  • Across the nation, Toyota uses returnable shipping containers, saving 27.2 million pounds of wood and 10.5 million pounds of cardboard in fiscal year 2011.
  • Lexus replaced ES spoiler packaging that contained cardboard and polyurethane foam. The new, lighter packaging uses less cardboard and replaces foam with kraft paper. Not only does the new packaging help reduce environmental impact, it also has an economic impact. Costs dropped from $10.44 to $6.44, a savings of $4 per spoiler.

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