Toyota Motor Corporation Is Driving The Trend to Carbon Neutrality 

by | Feb 17, 2023

(Credit: Toyota)

Toyota Motor Corp. makes cars, incorporated in 1937, and is one of the world’s biggest auto manufacturers, producing 10 million cars annually. It gained a foothold globally in the 1960s, marketing itself to the middle classes. And in the 1970s, it earned a reputation as gas-efficient — meaningful because of long lines at pump stations. In 1997, it enhanced its environmentally-friendly reputation by introducing the Toyota Prius, a hybrid between electric and gas. It now sells worldwide more than 40 different kinds of hybrids. It also sells hydrogen-fueled vehicles called Toyota Mirai, which has a ways to go before it gains the same kind of acceptance as its hybrids.

“Here in North America, we are innovating, continuously improving, and thinking big and boldly, all to go beyond minimizing negative impacts and bring us closer to creating a net positive impact on the planet and society,” Toyota says.

“We feature information about our environmental sustainability strategy and performance across four key focus areas — Carbon, Water, Materials, and Biodiversity — plus related Outreach activities,” it adds. We believe concentrating our efforts within these core focus areas will have the greatest positive impact on society, the planet, and our business.

Among the steps it is taking:

— purchases renewable electricity. The goal is 45% of all purchases by 2025. Currently, it is at about 4.3%, although that will spike to 20% once virtual power purchase agreements are finalized — long-term contracts that lock in the price of wind or solar generation for long periods.

— offers a variety of fuel-efficient and electric vehicles. To that end, it aims to reduce the CO2 tied to its new vehicles by 90% by 2050, using 2010 as a base year. And it plans to reduce those emissions by 35% by 2035. Since 2012, it has cut CO2 from new cars by 23%. The goal is to build 70% electric vehicles by 2030.

— reduces water during production by 5% by 2026 from 2020 levels.

— uses sustainable parts during manufacturing

— Reduce procurement of single-use packaging materials by 25% by 2026 from 2018 levels. So far, the company is at 19%.

— works with suppliers to reduce their CO2, water, and waste. The goal is to cut CO? emissions from suppliers by 10% from 2018 levels by 2026.

What specifically is Toyota doing to become carbon neutral?

The aim is to be carbon neutral by 2035. The company applies its carbon neutrality goal to its facilities, not just its manufacturing plants. Total Scope 1 and 2 CO2 emissions are 20% lower than in 2018. This success is due to greenhouse gas efficiency measures and increases in renewable electricity purchases, it says, noting that it is on track to hit its goals by 2035.

“In the U.S., Toyota is targeting reducing GHG emissions at nine plants by 50% by FY2030 (from a baseline of FY2018), through energy efficiency measures and building renewable energy generation. This target was set as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Climate Challenge,” it says. It adds it has completed “impact assessments” at 22 plants in North America, Europe, and Asia where water is discharged into rivers.

Moreover, it aims to collect and recycle the batteries inside of its EVs by 2030. Its current battery recycling program in the United States has collected and recycled or remanufactured more than 178,000 hybrid vehicle batteries since 2010.

Right now, 21% of its sales are electric or hybrid cars. The goal is 40% by 2025.

“Zero emissions from our vehicles are the ultimate goal and we believe the path to getting there is with a portfolio approach – fuel cell vehicles, hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles, and battery electric vehicles.

Offering a range of low-emission vehicles means we should be able to reduce as much CO2 as possible as soon as possible, which in North America means offering more plug-in hybrids and hybrids until the alternative fueling infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell and all-electric vehicles expands,” Toyota says. “By 2035, Toyota aims to make its manufacturing plants carbon neutral and by 2050, we aim to eliminate CO? emissions from our value chain. We’re investing in on- and off-site solar and wind projects to lower our carbon footprint.”

Logics make up a significant part of its supply chain’s CO2 emissions — like trucking, rail, shipping, and air transport. One method: convert from diesel-powered carriers to electricity or hydrogen when possible. “Suppliers are joining us in our efforts to reduce CO? emissions across the vehicle life cycle and are expected to commit to an annual 3% CO? reduction target.”

Where is Toyota buying renewable energy?

Toyota aims to achieve carbon neutrality at its facilities by 2035 and eliminate CO2 from energy use at its buildings and plants by 2050. It is therefore investing in on-site and off-site renewable energy projects. In 2021, for example, it added about 11 acres of solar arrays at plants in Alabama, Missouri, and West Virginia. Those solar panels produced 6,480,000 kWh of energy, it says. That’s the equivalent of powering nearly 800 homes per year, which is expected to reduce CO? emissions by 4,304 metric tons annually.

The Solar Energy Industries Association named Toyota a Top 20 company using on-site solar in the United States.

The company also uses off-site solar power through virtual power purchase agreements. For example, Toyota entered into a long-term power purchase agreement in 2020 with Clearway Energy Group to purchase electricity from Black Rock, a 115 MW wind farm in Grant and Mineral Counties, West Virginia. Clearway began construction on the wind farm in early 2021 and started generating power in 2022.

In 2021, it entered into a similar arrangement to support Clearway’s 100 MW Wildflower Solar project in DeSoto County, Mississippi. Toyota will buy most of the 80 MW of power, which is enough to fuel 8% of what Toyota says it will take off the grid for its domestic energy use in North America. The deal takes effect this year and “will match the high emission electricity used in its operations with zero emissions renewable electricity on the grid.”

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