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Toyota takes out the trash

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(Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. photo) One element of Toyota's trash-reduction efforts are the company's use of returnable containers at its Los Angeles Parts Distribution Center. The containers move parts and accessories around the company's North American parts network—and cut down on waste, Toyota said.

TORRANCE, Calif. (April 23, 2014) — Imagine lugging more than 1.9 million trash cans to the curb on trash day.

That’s what Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. (TMS) said it has avoided doing over the last four years. Since 2009, the auto maker has reduced or avoided 1.9 million trash cans-worth of waste at its sales and logistics facilities across the country.

This month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized Toyota’s efforts with the agency’s 2013 “WasteWise Large Business Partner of the Year” award—marking the second time TMS has received the designation and fourth consecutive year Toyota sales and logistics facilities have received a WasteWise award. The EPA program recognizes organizations’ efforts to reduce refuse, increase recycling and purchase environmentally preferable products.

Chris Reynolds, TMS chief environmental officer, said “Toyota focuses on continually improving how we do business. By reducing waste and increasing efficiency, we save environmental resources and lower costs for both Toyota and our customers.”

Collectively over the past four years, according to the company, TMS facilities recycled or avoided production of more than 304 million pounds of trash and consistently diverted 98 percent of their annual waste stream from landfill and incineration.

Putting a pencil to it, that amount of trash is equal to the weight of 1,843 Endeavor space shuttles, TMS said.

To accomplish this feat, Toyota said it has to think outside the box. For example, when North American Parts Center, Kentucky (NAPCK) delivery trucks drop off parts to the regional parts distributions centers, they’re loaded with plastic bags and plastic stretch wrap for the return trip to NAPCK. These types of plastics are often difficult to recycle, but TMS said the parts center then sells the bulk plastic to a nearby manufacturer that uses recycled wood and plastic to make composite patio materials.

Toyota joined the WasteWise program in 2009. A year later the vehicle maker received the Waste Reduction in the Workplace Gold Honorable Mention Award, followed by Large Business Partner of the Year honors in 2011. Last year, Toyota picked up an honorable mention as Large Business Partner of the Year.    

WasteWise is a voluntary partnership program sponsored by the EPA to help organizations achieve cost savings, improve efficiency and reduce their climate footprint through waste reduction. Partners range from large and small businesses to nonprofit organizations to federal, state, local and tribal governments.

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