Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) is ramping up its local environmental initiatives, implementing a strategy that involves all of its 219 Toyota and Lexus dealerships with a view to increasing public awareness about eco-friendly resourcefulness.

“We are keen to encourage other vehicle dealerships in South Africa to get involved in environmental projects to show consumers a caring attitude by the local motor industry as a whole,” says TSAM spokesman John Thomson. “Driving environmental programmes is a win-win situation for all involved and that is why we are stepping up our dealer initiatives.”

An initial step taken many years ago was for all dealers to sign a commitment to support TSAM’s environmental programme. This has expanded over the years into a structured, sophisticated platform that has become more comprehensive over time, with a set of standards that require compliance.

Each dealership has a chief environmental officer with the seniority and correct reporting line. He or she can take any transgressions to the dealer principal and institute remedial action immediately. Already, 200 dealerships have attained Toyota’s ECO-3 standard, which includes several of the relevant, key elements of the international ISO 14001 standard.

Now the Toyota benchmark has been raised to ECO-3 Advanced, which brings it into line with recent revisions to the ISO 14001 standard. TSAM uses its own standards, because obtaining ISO 14001 certification would be extremely onerous and expensive for individual dealerships.

“Our objective now is to get dealers to an ECO-3 Advanced level, which puts even more focus on reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, promotes a recycling culture that minimises waste to landfill and optimises water usage,” says Charles Classen who, with colleague Gregory Molise, drives the dealer environmental programme for Toyota SA.

According to a statement issued by the company, the ultimate driver of the programme is the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 – launched globally in October 2015 – which aims to make the brand the most environmentally responsible motor manufacturer in the world. In South Africa, the requirements and solutions are very much homegrown to suit local conditions and resources with the aim of continued positive results.

“The main tool used to manage progress is the Dealer Environmental Risk Audit Programme (DERAP), where dealers have to undertake self-audits twice a year to monitor compliance,” the statement says. “The process involves the dealer evaluating five fundamental objectives comprising 16 assessment points to demonstrate compliance. Toyota’s field staff provide an additional checkpoint at each dealership to verify conformance.”

The statement says dealers are encouraged to voluntarily implement action plans to reduce pollution and natural resource usage, specifically in terms of energy generation, water consumption and waste-to-landfill generated. “Dealers are urged to precisely measure and evaluate the impacts of their activities on the environment and the outcomes of actions to improve the situation.

“Toyota uses the carrot instead of the stick to encourage enthusiastic involvement by the dealers in the environmental projects, and this strategy is working. The rewards include incentive bonuses with the ultimate yearly prize for best dealer carrying with it an overseas trip.”

Halfway Toyota in George is the current holder of the title, which followed the relocation of the dealership to new premises that included a number of design elements and installations to minimise energy consumption and dependency on the municipal water supply.

A total of 288 solar panels installed on the roof are capable of supplying more than enough power for the dealership. LED lights are used in the workshop, while louvres in the roof permit natural light to enter, thereby substantially reducing electricity use. Three large tanks collect rainwater, while recycled water is used for the car wash – which has a sophisticated filter system that permits in excess of 50 cars a day to be washed.

“We continue to make significant progress in terms of decreasing Toyota’s environmental footprint in all aspects of our business and the latest programme changes will help us retain our reputation as a caring company,” says Thomson.

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