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Toyota Drives Toward Zero Waste 

2009 October 9

I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing environmentalists in government and business, but some people really stand out as extreme environmental leaders.

Each year our senior managers locked themselves in a conference room with hundreds of award nominations to find the most cutting edge, innovative, and inspirational people and groups working towards environmental protection. Ryan McMullen and his colleagues at Toyota Motor Sales were recognized by EPA’s Pacific Southwest award winners.  They are my heroes — they are living the dream of zero waste.

image of a cart full if plastic wrapping material in an automotive factoryRyan, an enthusiastic Toyota environmental expert in Torrance, CA, spearheaded efforts to eliminate waste through upstream thinking and complex lifecycle analysis. As a result, Toyota’s vehicle distribution centers send less than 4 ounces of waste to the landfill for each vehicle processed.

Toyota Motor Sales started using returnable shipping containers to conserve 17.6 million pounds of wood and cardboard in 2008.  And, there’s more –

  • Toyota’s Headquarters and nine facilities are sending Zero Waste to landfill,
  • Ten plants are achieving 95% waste reduction, and
  • Twelve distribution centers achieving over 90% recycling rates.

image of flattened cardboard boxes in a gray cart in an automotive factoryThese efforts have kept 118,990 trees from being cut down and conserved the energy equivalent of 1.6 million gallons of gasoline by providing recycled materials to industry.

Toyota worked with the University of California – Santa Barbara to develop and apply the Environmental Packaging Impact Calculator (EPIC) to measure and justify shifts in the company’s packaging and logistics.  They even use EPA’s Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool to improve green computing.

Toyota certainly deserves the EPA award. Do you have any zero waste tips to share?

About the author: Timonie Hood has worked on EPA Region 9’s Resource Conservation Team promoting waste reduction, recycling, and green building for 10 years in EPA’s Pacific Southwest Office.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

17 Responses leave one →
  1. Johnny R. permalink
    October 9, 2009

    I all corporations were as responsible as Toyota, our civilization might actually have a chance to survive its own madness.

  2. Kerry Krcek permalink
    October 10, 2009

    I have owned three Toyota vehicle’s since 1987, one bought brand new and two used. I drove these vehicles over 200,000 thousand miles with hardly any mechanical work done to them. I applaud Toyotas efforts to recycling and working towards reducing emissions in the environment.
    I would like to add that I have been living off the grid since 1981, and do presentations on living alternative lifestyles. My main point in the presentations, are that real change comes from the choices we the consumers make, and that we don’t have to live like some off grid hippy freak living back in the woods, we just have to be more conscious in who we give our money to. I don’t believe politics are going to be the answer, it’s valuable information about the products that we consume, and the how a corporation treats its employees and its environmental impacts that will make the big differences in our world . Thank you Toyota. Kerry Krcek

  3. Johnny R. permalink
    October 10, 2009

    IF all corporations were as responsible….. a very big IF.

  4. Mrs Green permalink
    October 10, 2009

    Hi Timonie, I am astonished to read of so little landfill waste being created by Toyota’s new cars! Thanks so much for sharing an excellent and exciting article.

    We feature guest posts on our site each week and I would love you to consider writing for us with more extensive facts and figures on this.

    our site focuses on reducing landfill waste – it is aimed at householders, but we love to share positive stories about how manufacturers are leading the way.

    Please email me if you would like to write for us! You can take a look at our site: http://myzerowaste.com and contact me by email if you are interest – please consider it; I think our readers would love an article like this!

    Warm wishes
    Mrs Green

  5. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    October 10, 2009

    Toyota is also working on hydrogen fuel and electric powered cars which will have a large impact on improving California Air Quality. They are a very forward looking corporation. It would be great if all national, multinational, and large regional corporations were like Toyota. We should move forward with hydrogen fueled cars and all electricpowered cars with the hydrogen manufactured by and batteries recharged by solar power. We need a good hydrogen and electric recharging infrastructure that is 21st century for 21st century cars. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  6. Ryan McMullan permalink
    October 19, 2009

    Thank you for the recognition of the efforts of so many associates at Toyota that make these achievements possible. You can find more detail on these programs at:
    http://www.toyota.com/about/enviroreport2008/03_recycling.html

    The FY09 report is due out in December for updated info.

  7. Talleres Uvilla permalink
    October 22, 2009

    I´m from Spain and I have a garrage shop.
    Here I´m always recycling used oil, tyres, cables, batterys and many many things that can harm the eviroment.

  8. used 4x4 pickup trucks permalink
    September 2, 2010

    I also driven toyota.it is best in performance.I also like to share positive stories about how manufacturers are leading the way.I am always recycling used oil, tyres,and many many things that can harm the environment.

  9. Alex permalink
    September 20, 2010

    Yes definitely… We must care for our environment. Toyota cars have always been performing good with diesel and petrol cars. But Toyota should now concentrate more on manufacturing the hydrogen fueled cars and electrically powered cars where batteries can be recharged by solar energy. And we have always been recycling used oil, Tyres in many ways. Recycling is always a best option for taking care of our environment.

  10. Nancy A. Beauregard permalink
    October 7, 2010

    I saw an add two years back that stated Toyota will recycle any time possible. We provide recycled/remanufactured anti-freeze to many Toyota dealerships. We could service many more and reduce your waste to water pretreatment plants in some cases, waste of limited resources, (Oil), reuse glycols 20 – 30 times. and reduce your operational cost by 40+%. Your program of offering credits to parts managers for buying Toyota anti-freeze makes easy to say it easy to not recycle. Parts and service have different cost considerations and parts does not care if service has a disposal cost. Please contact me. Maybe, Toyota gives credit for recycling!!!! Nancy B.

  11. Nancy A. Beauregard permalink
    October 7, 2010

    What moderation are you talking about?

  12. November 4, 2010

    Even as good as Toyota is at recycling, there are many things they can not do, such as end-of-life recycling. Again, just because the primary car builder does or does not successfully recycle, does not necessarily mean the steel, mercury flow switches, plastic, etc is not properly recycled. For more information please contact

  13. Toronto airport limo permalink
    February 6, 2011

    Thanks for the 7 tips have been a good read, I will be back to read more.

  14. imam permalink
    April 10, 2011

    It’s a nice blog. Your blog will help people.

  15. May 20, 2012

    This is a good initiative from Toyota and I hope they stay true. I would like to commend Toyota for trying to cut down wastes on their assembly plant, hence for a better environment.

  16. Sarah Davies permalink
    June 18, 2013

    This was a good initiative from Toyota and I hope other manufacturers have joined in! car service

  17. limo service toronto permalink
    December 10, 2013

    Toyota has really stepped up its game and I hope all the other auto companies follow Toyota’s path. Proud to drive a Toyota Corolla

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