Toyota exec touts conservation in Green Week keynote

OXFORD – Northeast Mississippi’s long-anticipated corporate shot-in-the-arm isn’t saying when it will begin operations in the area, but its chief environmental officer promises the company will be “a good citizen.”
Part of that role means environmental responsibility, promised Kevin Butt, general manager/chief environmental officer for Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America.
“Sustainability is not just about reducing the waste material or saving energy,” he said. “It’s also about economics: Smarter, leaner, most energy-efficient makes more profits so you can stay in business and continue to make improvements.”
Butt was keynote speaker for the University of Mississippi’s and Oxford’s Green Week, a five-day focus on environmental issues and solutions. In introducing him, Chancellor Robert Khayat noted the university’s role in stewardship.
“Any community of people who think has to be concerned about the challenges that confront humanity,” Khayat said. “This Green initiative is certainly important for all of us. I’m gratified by our community’s decision to become one of the leaders in this effort.”
Lessons for everyone
Toyota’s plant near Blue Springs eventually is expected to produce the Prius hybrid, but plans have been put on hold until the economy improves.
Some of Toyota’s environmental initiatives are highly technical in nature, such as the “ultimate eco-car” Butt said researchers are working on, but others are simple measures easily implemented in most households.
In Georgetown, Ky., he said, cafeteria waste from Toyota’s 7,000 employees is composted and used to fertilize the landscape, and mowing is minimized by planting wildflowers.
Employee training includes reminders to turn off unneeded lights and water taps.
“In 1999 we decided we would be a zero-landfill-waste company,” Butt said. “We’ve done that in nearly all our plants.”
He also noted Toyota has reduced carbon dioxide production and energy consumption per vehicle produced by more than a quarter since 2000 and non-saleable waste per vehicle by 46 percent just since 2006.
Butt’s biggest environmental concern, however, is water.
“Water’s a huge commodity that we continue to take for granted,” he said.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal