In my opinion, in creating a sustainable planet the role and contribution of the individual is most crucial. The efforts of governments and organisations need to be strongly supplemented by individual action for the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For this purpose, it is essential to create awareness and ownership for bringing about change towards sustainability. At Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM), as a part of our sixth challenge of establishing a future society in harmony with nature, our efforts are also targeted towards achieving greater employee involvement and engagement of the community in which we operate. 

The Ideas Series

…The lockdown period and the many don’ts that we continued to follow subsequently have been an eye-opener, telling us that less is sufficient and that we had merely got used to excess in most things. Imagine, we had even got used to air pollution! Faced with a stay-home-or-risk-your-life situation, many of us fell back on what we had all but forgotten – our creativity and our instinct to find joys in the little things. Sure, there was restlessness, worry and fear, but these happened alongside a different sort of unravelling of our minds which made us see things we had forgotten to notice. Rainbows for example, or rivers and blue skies. The music that happens in nature when the sound of traffic dies out. There were reports of sightings of animals in our otherwise urban jungles.

Maybe these were signs that it wasn’t too late yet. Too late for what, some may be wondering. Well, too late to turn back the clock on an environmental disaster that has been in the making through the decades of decadence and will someday choke us human beings out of existence. Sure, it’s not going to be you and me or even our children, but what about their children and their children’s children? Does the possibility of their existence in a cold world not disturb us, or does it sound dystopian, the stuff of science fiction… Read the full introduction to the series here.

In an effort to understand what leaders at various organisations are doing towards making a sustainable world a reality, CauseBecause reached out to them and asked what they can do to make sustainable living a way of life and how do they see their role as individuals as well as leaders in organisations. The participants include:

Anirban Ghosh, Mahindra
Gayatri Divecha, Godrej
Rajiv Williams, Jindal Stainless
Ramji Raghavan, Agastya International
Rashmi Soni, Vistara
Shalini Singh, Tata Power
Vijay Sethi, Hero MotoCorp
Vikram Gulati, Toyota Kirloskar Motor

As part of this effort, TKM runs an employee-volunteering programme called iCARE, in line with its belief that its workforce needs to align with its aim of contributing to the nation and society. Through this programme, our aim is to create awareness about socially relevant causes whilst encouraging people to take ownership and move in that direction. Secondly, employee-volunteering activities also provide a platform for people to work towards objectives that are relevant to the society at large. 

Currently, we have about 800 registered volunteers and 100 employees’ families participating during various socially relevant iCARE events organised by TKM. Since its launch in 2017, iCARE has created a massive impact of touching more than 45,000 lives in the community. Besides iCARE, our employees also take part in other regular CSR initiatives. For instance, in recent times over 5,000 TKM employees distributed health and hygiene kits to fight Covid-19 in their neighbourhoods in Bengaluru, overall covering 25,000 families.

Furthermore, in order to reach out to the community, create passion for the SDGs, and instil appreciation for the benefits of caring for the environment, we have developed the Eco Zone. Located within our plant, the Ecozone hosts 17 environment theme parks spread across 25 acres and have catered to more than 8,000 students since its inception. It is also home to more than 65,000 saplings of 650 native species.

–As leaders/decision makers

With the overarching aim of securing and protecting our planet, all member states of the United Nations came together in 2015 to adopt the SDGs. The SDGs provide a roadmap for achieving a better and more sustainable future for humankind. They address the global challenges humanity faces – poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation and lack of peace and justice.  

Governments alone cannot do enough. It should be a collective effort where everyone – organisations as well as individuals – contributes. At TKM, both employees and the company are strongly committed to the SDGs. 

In 2015, Toyota announced its six Environment Challenges – these are co-linked to the SDGs and continue to be the guiding light for all Toyota affiliates to bring about positive change to the world. Three of these six challenges seek to eliminate carbon emissions not only from the vehicles that we manufacture – ‘zero new vehicle carbon emission’ and the carbon emissions from our manufacturing activities – but also from beyond the boundaries of our factories by taking ownership and challenging ourselves to realise zero ‘life-cycle carbon emissions’ from our products. This means working to eliminate carbon emissions across our entire value chain from the raw-materials side to the ‘end of life’ of our products – that is, from cradle to grave for the cars that we manufacture. The other three challenges focus on minimising and optimising the use of water, establishing a recycling-based society and systems, and the challenge of establishing a future society in harmony with nature.

It is indeed a matter of immense satisfaction that TKM has made good progress in respect of these challenges. This has already helped us attain a high degree of sustainability in our operations. At the plant level (manufacturing), 93.35 per cent of our total energy requirement is currently met through renewable sources, which helped in reducing CO2 emissions by 43,500 tons in FY 2019–20. 

Further, the utilisation of renewable energy has contributed to a cumulative reduction of 2.06 lakh tons of CO2 emissions till FY19–20. We also strive to bring down our freshwater consumption by adopting recycling, rainwater harvesting and promoting Kaizen (continuous improvement) to reduce specific water consumption. Through these initiatives, we have reduced our freshwater utilisation by 92.5 per cent for manufacturing. Cumulatively, we could reduce 26,395m3 of freshwater during the year 2019. We have established effective waste-management practices through which we have enhanced the recyclability of our waste to 96 per cent. 

In respect of our products, Toyota is one of the pioneers in the shift towards electrification – a family of technologies that includes battery electric vehicles, hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and hydrogen vehicles. Globally, Toyota has sold over 15 million electrified vehicles that has helped in reducing 125 million tons of CO2 emission and resulted in saving 47 million kilolitres of gasoline. 

In India, TKM introduced hybrid-electric vehicles like Camry Hybrid and Lexus. It is essential to point out here that the fuel efficiency of the Camry Hybrid electric vehicle is 48 per cent better than the comparative petrol version and its emissions of PM 2.5 is 1/10th of the BS VI-mandated levels. The extremely high fuel efficiency of hybrid vehicles is because it has both a conventional petrol and a pure electric power-train that allows the vehicle to run on an average 60% of the distance and 40% of the time as an electric vehicle with the petrol engine shut off.

We are also enabling eco-initiatives across our value chain. For instance, all our dealers are mandated to implement ECO dealership guidelines and implement a waterless wash that helps in reducing water consumption. For our suppliers, we have green purchasing guidelines to guide the suppliers on the management of environmental aspects such as water management, CO2 reduction and chemical management. 

For expanding our SDG efforts to the community, most of our CSR initiatives are also correlated to the SDGs. For this we focus on five areas for our CSR programmes – education, health and hygiene, road safety, environment, and skill development. These five focus areas are also linked to national priorities like National Education Policy 2016, National Health Policy 2017, Road Transport and Safety Bill 2014, National Environment Policy 2006, and National Skill Development Mission, respectively.

Vikram Gulati is Country Head & Senior Vice-President, External Affairs, Public Relations, CSR and Corporate Governance, Toyota Kirloskar Motor

At TKM, we firmly believe that caring for the environment and operating in a responsible, sustainable manner is at the core of creating a sustainable business. Furthermore, companies must actively involve themselves in partnering with the community and governments to solve socially relevant issues. The participation of the private sector can lead to more innovation, efficiency and scale of impact. To achieve the SDGs, companies should choose fewer and more specific goals, adopt meaningful near-term targets (short- to mid-term), and reallocate resources (exclusive workforce for CSR). More importantly, they must ensure transparency and accountability in addressing social problems and collaborate with partners for better impact.