surpasses landfill-free facilities commitment
General Motors (GM) announced that 52 percent
of its worldwide facilities are now landfill-free, meaning all
waste generated from normal operations is reused, recycled or
converted to energy.
GM now has 76 landfill-free facilities, achieving a global operations
commitment established in 2008 to convert 50 percent of its 145
plants to landfill-free status by the end of 2010.
GM employees focus first on decreasing the amount of waste generated,
and then work to recycle the unavoidable waste. This year alone,
GM has recycled or reused 2.5 million tons of waste materials
at its plants worldwide – enough to fill 6.8 million extended-cab
pickup trucks that, if parked end-to-end, would stretch around
Through this annual recycling rate, it is estimated that GM has
eliminated 8.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent
(CO2e) emissions from entering the atmosphere.
GM’s first facility to achieve landfill-free status was an engine
plant in Flint, Michigan in 2005.
GM plants monitor, measure and report monthly on how they perform
against waste-reduction goals. This data, which sets the stage
for the landfill-free initiative, shows what materials are being
generated, reused and recycled, and reveals areas for improvement.
The resulting insight helped form a process that enables facilities
to replicate best practices globally.
On average, more than 97 percent of waste materials from GM’s
zero-landfill plants are recycled or reused, and less than 3
percent are converted to energy at waste-to-energy facilities,
replacing fossil fuels.
Critical to the landfill-free designation is the ability for
GM to turn material byproducts from routine manufacturing operations
into new-vehicle components. Plant managers view this waste as
potentially useful and marketable, and they work with their teams
and suppliers to develop these closed-loop systems. Other operational
waste comes full circle, as well, and is often recycled into
- Cardboard shipping materials from the GM Marion Stamping
and Fort Wayne Assembly plants are recycled into sound-absorber
material in the Buick Lacrosse’s headliner.
- Plastic caps and shipping aids from the Fort Wayne facility
are converted into radiator shrouds for the Chevrolet Silverado
and GMC Sierra pickups built at the plant.
- Tires from vehicle performance testing at Milford Proving
Ground are shredded and used in the manufacturing of air and
water baffles for a variety of GM vehicles.
- Paint sludge from the Lansing Grand River plant is turned
into plastic material and used for shipping containers durable
enough to hold Chevrolet Volt and Cruze engines.
“In addition to the environmental benefits, recycling provides
a strong business case,” said Mike Robinson, vice president of
Environment, Energy and Safety Policy. “GM has generated more
than $2.5 billion in revenue since 2007 through its various recycling
For example, metals from stamping and powertrain operations are
valuable, especially considering the amount GM generates. What
metal grindings and scraps GM doesn’t re-melt or reuse are sold
to third parties like foundries.
GM was one of the first organizations – and to date is the only
auto manufacturer – inducted into the United States Environmental
Protection Agency’s (EPA) WasteWise Hall of Fame, which recognizes
continued outstanding waste reduction. GM’s worldwide facilities
combined recycle 90 percent of the waste they generate. The company
has reduced total non-recycled waste 75 percent between 2000
and 2010 at manufacturing sites around the world. During the
last 5 years, it decreased waste generated per vehicle by 28
GM has made great progress in reducing its environmental impact.
In November, Chevrolet announced a multi-year commitment to invest
$40 million in various clean energy projects throughout America
with a goal to reduce another 8 million metric tons of carbon