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Charting Toyota’s green pathway

For more than three decades Toyota has been putting people and the environment first.

With a focus on sustainability spanning over 30 years, Toyota continues to be at the forefront of ecological innovation. MHD delves into Toyota’s enduring dedication to environmental conservation and highlights its most recent strides in sustainable materials handling.

In 1992, Toyota Motor Corporation unveiled its visionary approach titled, ‘A Comprehensive Strategy for Global Environmental Concerns: Earth Charter.’ This pivotal declaration laid the foundation for Toyota’s progressive approach to their environmental goals.

While Toyota had always been recognised as a pioneer in maximising efficiency while economising on resources, the 1992 “Comprehensive Strategy for Global Environmental Concerns: Earth Charter” marked a significant shift. Reflecting on the past 30 years, it was a commendably early recognition of the need for sustainability, particularly highlighting climate change.

“The foremost challenge facing humanity is ensuring that we bequeath a rich natural environment to the generations to come. Everyone needs to pay heed to this concern,” the Earth Charter of 1992 states. “This challenge doesn’t recognize borders – global issues like climate change require a united, global effort.”

The Charter’s “Comprehensive Strategy” focused on innovating technology to decrease the ecological impact of cars and their manufacturing plants. Additionally, it aimed at expanding environmental initiatives through Toyota’s worldwide production, marketing operations, and even extending to its suppliers, distributors, and dealers.

Since 1992, Toyota’s commitment to the Earth Charter has been consistently fortified. In the recent past, Toyota Industries Corporation emphasised its “Environmental Outlook,” making “climate change mitigation” their paramount environmental concern. Furthermore, in 2015, Toyota Motor Corporation launched the ‘Toyota Environmental Milestone 2050,’ presenting a series of challenges for its global subsidiaries, including:

  1. A 90 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions from new vehicles (using 2010 as a reference);
  2. Complete eradication of CO2 emissions in operations;
  3. Zero CO2 emissions from dealers and suppliers;
  4. Emphasis on water conservation and safeguarding water resources;
  5. Advocacy for a recycle-centric society; and
  6. Focusing on biodiversity conservation, species protection, and habitat rejuvenation.

Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) has commendably achieved, and in some cases surpassed, these lofty goals. For instance, the Toyota Industries Corporation had set a goal to cut emissions by 26 per cent (from the 2012 fiscal year) by 2021. Yet, Toyota’s European plants, some of which produce equipment for TMHA, achieved an impressive 31 per cent reduction.


Glen Ryan, Product Manager at TMHA, highlighted that traditionally, forklifts exceeding 3.5 tonnes mostly relied on internal combustion (IC) engines over electric power.

“But in early 2019, we introduced to Australia our innovative 8 FBMT and 9 FBMT series,” Glen says. “These represent our battery electric forklifts in the 3.5 to 8.0 tonne range. Previously, such weight ranges would require IC forklifts, leading to not only environmental concerns but also health issues for operators exposed to exhaust. Our new range eradicates these concerns, prioritizing the operator, surrounding workers, and the environment.”

Toyota is leading the way in electric battery materials handling equipment.
Toyota is leading the way in electric battery materials handling equipment.

Michael Marks, in charge of Warehouse MHE products at TMHA, pointed out that Toyota’s R&D has predominantly been dedicated to optimising its battery-electric range, aligning with Toyota’s principle of perpetual enhancement.

“The evolution we see today is not just in machinery efficiency but also in the batteries that power them,” Michael observes.

Michael elaborates on the advantages of lithium-ion batteries over traditional lead-acid ones. “Unlike lead acid batteries, which need about eight hours to charge from 20 per cent, lithium-ion batteries can be charged anytime, without affecting their longevity.”

The practical benefits of this are immense, especially for large enterprises operating round-the-clock. With faster charging cycles and consistent energy delivery, companies can achieve significant cost savings and flexibility.

 “By collaborating with a top OEM for our lithium-ion cells, who aligns with Toyota’s environmental values, we’re dedicated to aiding our clients in realising their own green goals,” Michael adds. “Adopting lithium-ion could potentially reduce a company’s CO2 footprint by up to 20 per cent.”

Glen emphasises the growing preference for electric battery machines. He states that currently, these products command approximately 60 per cent of the market share.

Toyota’s relentless pursuit of innovation will inevitably continue to shift the industry toward electric battery-operated equipment. 

Three decades since the unveiling of the 1992 Earth Charter, Toyota’s unwavering dedication to both its customers and the planet has only intensified, as evidenced by TMHA’s new facility in Dandenong South, Victoria. 

“Incorporating eco-friendly measures was non-negotiable for us,” says TMHA COO Cameron Paxton. “From rainwater harvesting systems to energy-efficient LED lighting, we’ve made every effort to reduce our carbon footprint. Our ambition is to set a benchmark for environmentally conscious operations in the material handling industry.”

From the products it makes to the facilities it works in, Toyota and TMHA continue to work around the clock for a greener future.

For more information on Toyota Material Handling Australia, click here

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