What Works: Toyota plant's Governor's Award started at its trash compactor

June 14, 2007
Toyota plant’s path to Governor’s Award began at its trash compactor.

When Indiana State Gov. Mitch Daniels decided to recognize Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing, Inc. (TIEM) with the 2006 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence, he did so because of the company’s ongoing commitment to innovative use of environmental practices, waste reduction and contribution to the protection of Indiana’s environment. TIEM successfully implemented and managed its Environmental Management System to achieve a 33% reduction in VOC emissions, 80% reduction in hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions, 40% reduction in energy consumption and a 65% reduction in natural gas consumption, according to the award citation.  The award-winning activity started when TIEM’s Columbus, Ind., facility decided to stop sending waste to the local county landfill. It then worked on ways to reduce the waste going into its compactors, ultimately dropping it to about 30% of its original volume. This was accomplished by:

  • Using as many returnable containers as possible
  • Removing and recycling wood products
  • Instituting an improved paper recycling program
  • Laundering rags and gloves for reuse

The overall waste reduction was accomplished through a strong adherence to TIEM’s Environmental Management System, policies and procedures, and Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and OSHA regulations.

As volatile organic compounds (VOC), the main ozone-causing pollutants) become more abundant, new approaches to reducing ground-level ozone precursors becomes more critical. One of the biggest obstacles to eliminating this common byproduct of burning fossil fuels in factories, motor vehicles and power plants is the painting process. TIEM developed paint process improvements to help remove hazardous air pollutants (HAP) and VOC from its solvents. This, along with other reformulations in solvent-based paints, has allowed the company to significantly reduce VOC and HAP per truck produced at the facility. These same paint process improvements also have reduced waste typically generated during production.

TIEM made VOC reductions with technology and method changes including:

  • Replaced listed solvents with non-listed solvents
  • Replaced conventional sprayers with electrostatic applicators
  • Reduced diameters and lengths of fluid transfer lines to reduce purge waste
  • Improved transfer efficiency with robotics
  • Automated pot life monitoring to control the need for line purging

Each year, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) accepts nominations for outstanding environmental performance, and companies complete an application process to be in the running for recognition in one of three categories. TIEM’s zero landfill waste made it a standout, as the company succeeded in ceasing disposal of its general trash to local landfills. Waste is transported to Covanta’s fuel-to-energy facility in Indianapolis, where it’s used to produce steam that powers the downtown heating loop. This loop includes nearly all downtown businesses, as well as Indiana University,

Purdue University's Indianapolis campus, and Eli Lilly, the area's largest pharmaceutical manufacturer.
TIEM’s distinction in the Governor’s Award category, “Five Years Continuous Improvement,” issued to companies that have consistently implemented projects leading to significant environmental benefits, is evidence that Toyota’s everyday strategies for global guardianship have resulted in a company culture of environmentally beneficial production and decision-making processes.

“We are proud to be included in this distinguished list of environmentally responsible companies,” says Sonny Toyoda, president of TIEM. “We work diligently, and this award sends a clear message that smart business decisions also can be environmentally friendly. It’s a message we deliver with enthusiasm and conviction.”

Shankar Basu, president and CEO of Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A. and a director of TIEM, says the accomplishment represents the company’s unfailing commitment to environmental stewardship and the result of hard work and dedication by TIEM’s associates, who are responsible for manufacturing the most durable and popular lift trucks in the industry. “To be honored by the state of Indiana for our company’s environmental stewardship,” Basu says, “is gratifying to say the least.”

Dixon Churchill, TIEM Environmental, Health & Safety Manager, Toyota, may be reached at (812) 342-0060.

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