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Environmental Management at Highlander Assembly Plant


TNZ sources Highlander vehicles from the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana (TMMI) plant in Princeton, Indiana, United States. In early 2021 TNZ Highlander will be offered as a hybrid only.

TMMI was completed in 1998 and covers 40 hectares in Gibson County. In addition to the Highlander and Highlander Hybrid, it builds the Sequoia SUV and Sienna minivan (unavailable in New Zealand). More than 422,000 units were assembled in 2018.

Toyota plants are required to be ISO 14001 certified within a year of their establishment and implement ongoing environmental management. These requirements are part of Toyota’s efforts to minimise risks and achieve leading environmental performance. Audits identify significant impacts and set corresponding controls, goals and targets to manage and reduce them over time.

TMMI has participated in the Indiana Environmental Stewardship Program since 2007. Run by the state’s Department of Environmental Management, it recognises leading companies that go beyond basic compliance with environmental regulations. Each year members submit performance reports of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other air pollutants, energy consumption, hazardous materials and waste, water use, waste recovered and waste to landfill.


In 2018 TMMI was one of the winners of the Indiana Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence, for achieving the following reductions, with five years of continual improvement between 2012 and 2018:

  • Energy consumption – 42% per vehicle
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – 31% per vehicle
  • Water usage – 24% per vehicle
  • VOC emissions – 20% per vehicle
  • Waste generation – 19% per vehicle
  • Landfill waste disposal – maintained zero waste to landfill.

TMMI’s East and West Plants were two of the four Toyota sites awarded Energy Star building certifications by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2018. Such buildings must meet strict energy performance standards and operate more efficiently than at least 75% of similar buildings nationwide.


Every TMMI employee is required to understand the Toyota Environmental Policy and to put its principles into practice. To keep environmental responsibility at the forefront of thought and action, the acronym LEAF is used:


This video illustrates how LEAF works in practice, with the story of a team member who identified that a small reduction of 73 grams of PVC spray on each Sienna vehicle would eliminate 11,000 kilograms of spray across the 150,000 minivans assembled each year - View here


Since 1999 Toyota Motor North America has partnered with the Wildlife Habitat Council, which recognises and certifies meaningful wildlife habitat management and conservation education programmes. The Council helps to inventory plant and animal species on sites and identify appropriate projects. Protected areas include grassland, wildflower meadows, pollinator gardens and forests. TMMI holds a Silver Conservation Certificate, which was first awarded in 2013.

130,900 native Indiana trees have been planted on 92 hectares of land owned by TMMI, creating a habitat for wildlife including white-tailed deer, bobcats and nesting red-tailed hawks. The trees capture over 2,000* tonnes of CO2 annually.

Estimated 2,170 tonnes of CO2 based on the methodology used by US Environmental Protection Agency in its Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, where it is assumed that it takes about 10 years for a tree to reach its full potential for sequestering carbon.

TMMI is one of 17 Toyota sites across North America that have planted pollinator gardens along the migration path of the monarch butterfly. The gardens provide food and shelter to the butterflies at various stages of their life cycle as they make their way south for the winter, then return in the spring.

The monarch is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration. Monarchs from the east migrate to the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico, while those west of the Rocky Mountains over winter in California. Some migration routes are as long as 4,800 kilometres, and a journey south can take as long as two months to complete.



Household waste

Since 1994 TMMI has helped team members and Gibson County residents to recycle and dispose properly of household waste. On designated collection days, electronic waste, appliances, fluorescent light bulbs, paint, pesticides and other household items that are difficult to recycle or dispose of can be dropped off. Team members also collect items such as clothing and spectacles, which are donated to those in need.

Collections in October 2018 and April 2019 also gathered over 200 kilograms of household batteries, 3,400 litres of used oil, 15 litres of medicine and seven box trucks of used electronics. Almost 26,000 kilograms of waste were recycled or disposed of properly.

Community education

TMMI’s school's programme seeks to build knowledge and foster a love of nature in children and an understanding of the importance of protecting it.

During Earth Week 2019, the plant hosted Earth Aware Camp at YMCA Camp Carson in Princeton and Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve in Evansville. Employees spent the day with third-graders, doing activities and games designed to teach them about environmental responsibility. Mesker Park Zoo brought its ‘Going, going, gone’ animal exhibit to share with the children the impacts that humans have on animals and their habitats.

Supporting community initiatives helps to scale up conservation efforts. In 2018, US$1.7 million was donated to local non-profit organisations.

Elsewhere, employees work to help plant gardens that produce food for local charities.

Plant modernisation

In January 2020 TMMI completed a US$1.3 billion modernisation programme, with the installation of new equipment and advanced manufacturing technologies. The total number of employees exceeds 7,000, and more than 420,000 vehicles can be assembled annually.

In addition to the plant investment, Toyota Indiana committed US$1 million to a new regional workforce programme that will connect students with career opportunities in advanced manufacturing while they are still in high school.

More information about Toyota’s North American initiatives is available here