Toyota: Greening or Green-washing?

Relatively speaking, as far as car companies go, Toyota is pretty green. Admittedly it does still make some big, gas-guzzling cars, but the Prius pushed hybrid technology into mass production, and the technology is slowly spreading through to their other models. They have recently announced some measures that aim to improve the sustainability of their factories, but whether this is green-washing or true greening is open to debate. According to their press release, the move has three main targets;

1. Reducing CO2 by using renewable energy, including biomass and natural energy sources, such as solar power and wind power

2. Contributing to the local community and conserving the environment by planting trees at plant

3. Achieving groundbreaking environmental performance by introducing innovative technology and kaizen (improvement) activities Fittingly, the first plant to benefit from these changes will be the Tsutsumi Plant which makes the Prius. A 2,000kW photovoltaic generation system will be installed in order to reduce the amount of non-sustainable power used, which Toyota claim will be the largest installed in a car factory worldwide. As well as reducing emissions, the company is also aiming to actually remove some from the atmosphere, with photo-catalytic paint - this breaks down some greenhouse gasses to less harmful materials. Other measures include planting native trees, and building an environmental education facility which will be open to the public.

It would be easy to look at these changes cynically, but Toyota has made more of an effort to protect the environment than many other car manufacturers. In the same way that Toyota managers improve the efficiency of their plants gradually, with incremental changes, they can lessen the impact of their operations move by move. However, these moves are still in the planning stage, and we would be far more enthusiastic if this press release was documenting the success of the project, rather than explaining what will happen in the future. Needless to say, TreeHugger will be keeping an eye on the project. ::Toyota via ::Green Car Congress

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