GM Releases Zero-Waste Blueprint

Auto manufacturer summarizes its waste-reduction strategies and global landfill-free program.

October 19, 2012
Recycling Today Staff
Ferrous Nonferrous Plastics
General Motors, headquartered in Detroit, is offering a downloadable blueprint summarizing its process for making its plants and facilities landfill-free. The document is intended to help companies of all sizes and industries reduce waste through reuse, recycling or energy recovery and create efficiencies.
Industrial facilities in the United States generate and manage 7.6 billion tons of industrial waste in land disposal units annually, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. However, General Motors says it recycles 90 percent of its worldwide manufacturing waste and has 102 landfill-free facilities. The company is working to make 125 of its facilities landfill free by 2020. 
GM says its goal is to recover all resources to their highest value by managing byproducts in an electronic tracking system. All byproducts are regarded as useful and marketable, and suppliers play integral roles in making this happen, the company says. GM counts about $1 billion in revenue annually from byproduct recycling and reuse.
“A landfill-free program requires investment,” says Mike Robinson, GM vice president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs. “It’s important to be patient as those upfront costs decrease in time, and recycling revenues will help offset them. This program allows GM to reduce its waste footprint while creating greater environmental awareness among employees and communities where we make and sell cars and trucks.” 
When GM started its landfill-free program in the United States, the company says it invested about $10 for every ton of waste reduced. Over time, it has reduced program costs by 92 percent and total waste generated by 62 percent. GM says it encourages its employees to find new ways to operate more leanly and more efficiently.
“Whether a company is large or small, a landfill-free journey involves a long-term view, bottom-line focus, innovative thinking and ongoing collaboration,” Robinson says.