Plant 11M trees, cut emissions by 90%

A long line of Toyota vehicles blends in with the greens.

A long line of Toyota vehicles blends in with the greens.

Santa Rosa, Laguna —A generation ago, motoring and environmentalism were considered oil and water (or if you prefer the more dramatic Pinoy translation: tubig at langis)—impossible to combine.

But somehow, what we humans failed to comprehend, Mother Nature force-fed us. If we wanted to continue the quality of life we now enjoy, there had to be trade-offs.

Industrialization, modernization, and motorization on a global scale have ultimately led to the depletion of much of the world’s resources.

Worse, they have helped set off a meteorological chain reaction that we now commonly hear, see, and feel as climate change.

Like many of its counterpart industrial giants who consider it their corporate responsibility to “give back” what they have “taken” from the environment, global automotive giant Toyota shares that it has been actively conducting its own global environment month every June for the past 44 years with its 350,000 employees worldwide.

If we are to heed what scores of climate scientists have for some time now been warning, then we are, indeed, looking at desperate times.

And that calls for desperate measures.

Toyota, for its part, says it has partnered with local communities to plant 11 million trees globally.

More importantly, it has also committed to achieving “zero CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions” in its vehicles, which means, this declaration is not limited to the hybrid Prius and hydrogen-powered Mirai.

It has required all its suppliers (e.g., for wiring harness) to reduce the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of their production processes to comply with its purchasing guidelines.

Toyota claims it has lowered CO2 emissions in its plant operations, and has minimized and optimized its water use.

Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) has created a recycling-based society inside its Santa Rosa plant, and has conducted tree-planting initiatives in its own adopted forest.

These, and other new steps, were highlighted during the June 13 opening of TMP’s 2017 Eco Fair in its sprawling plant.

The eco fair highlights TMP’s environmental initiatives aligned with the global Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050.

At the opening, about 60 students from the nearby Santa Cruz Elementary School were shuttled in for a tour of the plant facilities and the Toyota forest.

Tagging along were selected motoring media.

Hybrids and fuel cells

The tour group was led to the express maintenance service area to view the fourth-generation Prius.

The Prius (as well as the compact Prius C), Toyota’s flagship hybrid vehicle, gets its power from a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine and an electric motor.

The Prius can switch between these two sources at optimum efficiency.

On the other hand, the fuel cell-powered Mirai does not emit any CO2; it is Toyota’s flagship “green” car.

At the TMP Green Home, a staffer explains to students how compost fertilizer is made.

At the TMP Green Home, a staffer explains to students how compost fertilizer is made.

Unfortunately, TMP hasn’t offered the Mirai yet to the local market.

The Prius and the Mirai represent Toyota’s serious commitment to reduce the CO2 emissions of its vehicles by 90 percent by 2050 (compared to 2010 emissions).

Zero CO2 emissions challenge

Toyota is looking keenly at not just the emissions, but at the vehicle production process too.

The auto manufacturer is developing and expanding the use of materials with lower CO2 emissions during production, and will reduce the quantity of materials and number of parts used in a vehicle.

It said it would adopt more recycling and biological materials for vehicle production, and enhance the initiative aimed at easy-to-dismantle design.

The automaker calls this the Lifecycle Zero CO2 Emissions Challenge.

The challenge requires all suppliers to ensure environmental compliance of all products and raw materials delivered to the Santa Rosa plant.

This includes the elimination of “substances of concern” in all parts and components.

Suppliers are asked to introduce initiatives that reduce CO2 and VOC emissions, water consumption, solid generation, pollution discharge, logistics operations, and packaging materials.

As examples of the challenge that TMP must meet, the group was led to various production centers of the plant.

At the painting line, a boiler feedback controller ensures optimum efficiency in the combustion of the facility’s two boilers by automatically adjusting the air-to-fuel ratio.

In effect, there is less diesel fuel used, contributing to less CO2 emissions in boiler operations.

Young students come face to face with the Prius hybrid.

Young students come face to face with the Prius hybrid.

At another site, the TMP waste water treatment plant (WWTP) was shown as a three-treatment system (physical, chemical and biological), ensuring that the effluent regulatory requirements are met.

The WWTP has its own laboratory that analyzes the main water parameters every day.

Water coming from the WWTP is safe and clean enough to water the plants and refill the man-made lagoon, while the rest are released to Laguna Lake.

Recycling-based society

The group also made a stop at TMP’s Green Home, a model house where half of its building materials are recycled.

The furniture and fixtures were fabricated from the TMP manufacturing plant’s scrap materials, such as metal and wooden pallets used for packaging, tubes, wire rollers, plastics, pipes, excess tiles, and crushed green glass.

The Green Home also has natural and LED lighting, natural ventilation, a green roof, and a rainwater harvesting facility.

Plants in the plant

The group also ventured inside the Toyota forest, which has a tree nursery intended to breed biodiversity.

Every June, in celebration of the Global Toyota Environment Month, team members are encouraged to join tree-planting activities in the forest, as well as in its adopted forest in the Makiling Botanical Gardens in Los Baños, Laguna.

TMP also has a collaborative partnership with the University of the Philippines Los Baños Foundation.

Aside from the reforestation of 10 hectares inside the Makiling Botanical Gardens, a 3-hectare Toyota Palmetum Garden has been created, which will exhibit endemic palm species in the Philippines.

The 300-square-meter Toyota Environment Education Center has also been instituted.

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