A solid framework for environmental management provides the basis for continual improvement and innovation at Toyota Australia, in particular at our Altona manufacturing plant. Toyota’s global approach to environmental management focusses on three pillars: compliance, risk minimisation and best practice.
The emphasis of compliance is on prevention. A key element of this involves establishing a good relationship with the communities in which we operate. Like most companies, Toyota would rather resolve issues through consultation and cooperation than through additional regulation.
While Toyota Australia’s environmental plan is guided by the Toyota Motor Corporation’s global vision and environmental action plan the company has its own environmental policy and plan which are implemented through the Toyota Australia environmental management system (TEMS). TEMS is used to manage our environmental risks, ensure legal compliance and promote continuous improvement.
TEMS is certified to the international environmental management standard ISO 14001 at four key sites – our manufacturing plant (Altona), the parts centre and sales and marketing office (Sydney), company fleet and vehicle servicing garage (Altona) and corporate headquarters (Port Melbourne).
The second pillar looks to minimise environmental risk specifically in the areas of chemical control, and ground water and soil contamination.
In chemical control, the Altona plant goes beyond local legal requirements to comply with European recycling standards making sure that chemicals used in parts for locally built vehicles meet strict overseas criteria. The Altona site’s list of banned chemicals has been developed from European and Japanese environmental protection standards.
Our risk mitigation approach reflects the precautionary principle as detailed in the United Nations Declaration Principle 15 that states that where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
The third pillar calls for best practice resource use for energy, water, waste and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The Toyota production system (TPS) defines waste not just in the traditional sense but also in wasted effort. The TPS principles of just in time and jidoka are applied across all three pillars of environmental management at our manufacturing plant. This creates a framework for monitoring, measuring and correcting any imbalance.
Our response to climate change is best demonstrated under this third pillar. We understand that climate change is an issue of concern and importance to stakeholders and has a particularly high profile especially in view of government policy and managing the impacts of policy. This issue is managed through our carbon working group which reports to the environment committee. Our identification and management of best practice resource use also allows us to mitigate against climate change impacts including reducing water consumption, waste and energy.
We acknowledge that we are a high energy user, which is why Toyota globally is committed to leading the way with environmental research and technologies. As we will still be building cars and engines in Australia until the end of 2017, it is important that we continue to engage in new programs to reduce our carbon footprint.