These two companies are in transition. Toyota is moving towards "zero waste" manufacturing and recyclable vehicles. Waste Management is transforming from a landfill company to a waste management company that finds value in the materials it collects. Top-tier corporate representatives of these companies served as keynote speakers at the Air & Waste Management Association conference last week in San Antonio.
Kevin Butt, Chief Environmental and Safety Officer for Toyota North America presented the company's achievements and goals in zero waste and sustainability. In North American, 13 of the 15 Toyota plants are "zero waste" operations. Most of the time these facilities are "true zero" and do not send any material to landfill. Efforts on zero waste even include on-site composting programs. Toyota also seeks to use renewable energy sources and has solar panel installations on some plants. The company's 2011-2015 Environmental Action Plan
puts emphasis on hybrid and electric vehicles. Their vehicles will also be 95% recyclable by weight by 2015 when regulations in the European Union and Japan will require this of all vehicles sold in those regions.
's Senior VP of Organic Growth devoted most of his speech to describing various corporate subsidiaries and joint ventures seeking to extract value from "waste". WM collects about 100 million tons of materials from customers every year. It's North America's largest recycler, but they're looking to move beyond just recycling. This company is investing in various technologies to convert landfill gas and other typical municipal solid waste materials to fuels. Examples include landfill gas to LNG (liquefied natural gas) for vehicles, solid waste to ethanol and methane (natural gas), cellulose-based materials to pellets to replace coal, and plastics and yard/food waste to gasoline or jet fuel. Additional areas of WM research and development involve developing microbes to create industrial feedstock chemicals from solid waste materials and closing the loop in PET plastic recycling.
Our industrial neighbors are definitely interested in becoming better stewards of our planet's resources. As he finished his presentation, Kevin Butt said, “If you see something we aren't doing about sustainability, I'm all ears.”
Submitted by Jennifer Lasseter
on Fri, 06/29/2012 - 4:36pm