Half of GM plants to be landfill-free by 2010
Thirty-three operations reach landfill-free status, bringing current total to 43

General Motors (GM) announced a commitment to make half of its major global manufacturing operations landfill-free by the end of 2010. When translating the commitment to an individual facility basis, more than 80 of GM’s manufacturing operations will become landfill-free over the next 28 months. GM facilities achieve the landfill-free status when all production waste or garbage is recycled or reused.

As part of the initiative, the company announced 33 global operations have recently reached landfill-free status, bringing the company’s current total number of landfill-free manufacturing operations to 43.

At GM’s landfill-free plants, over 96 percent of waste materials are recycled or reused and more than 3 percent is converted to energy at waste-to-energy facilities. Eliminating waste to this degree is a GM manufacturing priority.

Not only does this initiative help the environment, it helps the company’s bottom line. As a result of the company’s global recycling efforts, recycled metal scrap sales are approaching $1 billion in annual revenue. Additionally, in North America alone, GM will generate about $16 million in revenue from the sale of recycled cardboard, wood, oil, plastic and other recycled materials.

Over 3 million tons of waste materials will be recycled or reused from GM plants worldwide this year. An additional 50,000 tons will be converted to energy at waste-to-energy facilities. Some of the materials recycled at GM’s zero landfill sites this year include 630,000 tons of scrap metal, 8,000 tons of wood, 7,500 tons of cardboard and 1,200 tons of plastic. These numbers will increase as additional manufacturing facilities reach zero landfill status.

Part of the challenge is finding uses for materials. At GM’s landfill-free plants, even the smallest piece of waste is put to a good use. Waste aluminum generated at GM facilities is reused to produce engine and transmission components. Steel, alloy metals, and paper are sent to recyclers to be made into a variety of products. Used oil is reconditioned for reuse in GM facilities. Wood pallets are reused, rebuilt or ground into landscape chips or sent to waste-to-energy facilities. Empty drums, totes and containers are refurbished and reused again and again. Cardboard is collected, compacted and sold for making new cardboard materials.