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General Motors improves sustainability

General Motors (GM) reaffirmed its commitment to further reduce the energy used and the environmental impacts of building and operating an automobile, detailing product goals and tracking progress toward its 2020 manufacturing priorities in its 2012 sustainability report.

The report covers energy, emissions, waste reduction and other areas that drive long-term sustainability.

Reducing energy used and emissions output in its plants, operations and products is important to customers and stakeholders, GM said in the report. The company’s overall sustainability strategy creates value for customers through new technologies and lower operating costs, and improves the bottom line through revenue generation, cost savings and risk mitigation.

GM developed the following commitments to meet customer needs for efficient vehicles and significantly reduce the environmental impact of its products:

  • Put 500,000 vehicles on the road in the U.S. with some form of electrification by 2017. GM’s electrified vehicles currently include the extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt, Spark EV and Buick LaCrosse, Regal, Chevrolet Malibu and Impala with eAssist.
  • Double the models that achieve 40-mpg highway or better by 2017, such as the Chevrolet Volt, Sonic and Cruze Eco, and the all-new Cadillac ELR and Chevrolet Spark EV and Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel.
  • Reduce average U.S. fleet CO2 emissions 15 percent by 2016 and Opel/Vauxhall fleet CO2 emissions 27 percent by 2020.

GM bases its sustainability priorities on an assessment of the most pressing global economic, environmental and social issues facing the company’s customers and the communities where GM does business. Both internal and external stakeholders identified product efficiency and energy and emissions management of manufacturing operations among the most important for the company.

GM’s energy management and renewable energy leadership helped reduce carbon intensity by 5.3 percent since 2010, making progress toward its 20 percent reduction commitment by 2020. In 2012, GM reduced 173,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions throughout its operations – equal to the carbon sequestered by more than 4.4 million newly planted trees in the first decade of growth.

The company uses more than 60 megawatts of solar, landfill gas and biomass energy at its facilities presently, about halfway to its 125 megawatt renewable energy goal. GM also reduced the amount of energy required to build one vehicle by 7 percent and avoided $66 million in energy costs through conservation initiatives since 2010.

GM’s landfill-free program continues to grow around the world and produce bottom-line benefits, with an industry-leading 105 facilities that recycle, reuse or convert to energy all waste from daily operations. By recycling and reusing 90 percent of its manufacturing waste worldwide, the company generates about $1 billion in revenue annually. GM has reduced total waste 25 kilograms, or 55 lbs., per vehicle since 2010.