Toyota announces plans to cut emissions by 40 percent at US plants

Funding wind and solar will help downsize the company's carbon footprint

Plano, Texas-based Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) wants to aggressively reduce its carbon output in the U.S. by making agreements for Virtual Power Purchase Agreements (VPPAs).

The plan aims at using the VPPAs to reduce emissions from its North American operations by as much as 40% over the next 3 years. It’s the latest initiative in Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050 with the goal of cutting global emissions from plant operations to zero by 2050.

The announcement does not mean that Toyota plants will produce 40% fewer emissions, but that the company will offset its carbon output by helping to reduce emissions elsewhere. Toyota operates 10 plants in the U.S. including in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Texas.

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Under the virtual power purchase agreements, Toyota will contract with renewable energy providers to generate wind and solar power which will be provided directly to regional electric grids. “The supply of renewable power is expected to reduce use of fossil fuels while improving the sustainability of the electric grid in the area,” the company said in a statement.

“By powering its operations from the enhanced grid and applying Renewable Energy Credits earned by funding the generation of renewable electricity, Toyota expects to substantially offset emissions from its facilities in North America,” the company said.

Kevin Butt, general manager and regional Environmental Sustainability director for TMNA, said that the company “has long been defined by its commitment to responsible environmental practices, and we’re proud to build upon that great legacy today.”

The VPPA program is the outgrowth of more than six years of research into how Toyota could best reduce and offset emissions from its facilities. The automaker worked with researchers at MIT, the National Renewable Energy Lab, the Rocky Mountain Institute, among others. The plant-focused approach works alongside Toyota’s inititiatives to lower emissions from cars.

Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050, which includes the latest announcement, started in 2015, setting out six objectives for the company’s global operations:

  1. A 90% reduction in global average CO2 emissions from new vehicles vs. 2010 levels;
  2. The complete elimination of CO2 emissions from the entire vehicle life cycle; zero emissions at all manufacturing plants worldwide;
  3. Minimizing water usage and implementing water discharge management protocols;
  4. Promoting global deployment of end-of-life vehicle treatment and recycling, and;
  5. Connecting and promoting nature conservation activities outside of the Toyota Group in the communities where the company operates.
“We are committed to setting an example of sustainability that goes beyond vehicles to show how a company can significantly reduce the environmental impact of its operations,” Butt said in the company statement.

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