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GM Meets, Beats Landfill-Free Facilities Target

General Motors says 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. The company had a goal to convert half of its 145 plants to landfill-free status by the end of 2010.

GM now has 76 landfill-free facilities. GM’s first facility to achieve landfill-free status was an engine plant in Flint, Mich., in 2005.

Their methodology started with a decrease in the amount of waste generated, and then a focus on recycling for the unavoidable waste. In 2010, GM has recycled or reused 2.5 million tons of waste materials at its plants worldwide, efforts have eliminated 8.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions from entering the atmosphere.

“Whether it’s a facility that’s already achieved landfill-free status or one of the many that are nearly there, every site is serious about finding ways to reduce and reuse waste,” said Mike Robinson, vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety Policy at GM.

On average, more than 97 percent of waste materials from GM’s zero-landfill plants are recycled or reused and less than 3 percent is converted to energy at waste-to-energy facilities, replacing fossil fuels. The company has reduced total non-recycled waste 75 percent between 2000 and 2010 at manufacturing sites around the world. During the last five years, it decreased waste generated per vehicle by 28 percent.

A key step to the landfill-free operation has been the efforts to transform material byproducts from manufacturing operations into new-vehicle components.  Examples include cardboard shipping materials recycled into sound-absorber material, and paint sludge turned into plastic material and used for shipping containers.

“In addition to the environmental benefits, recycling provides a strong business case,” said Robinson. “GM has generated more than $2.5 billion in revenue since 2007 through its various recycling activities.”

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3 thoughts on “GM Meets, Beats Landfill-Free Facilities Target

  1. General Motors is expected to start the process of its IPO as soon as possible. The United States government still owns a majority in the car company, with many referring to the company as “government” motors. The stock offering which will be made later this month will have the United States government’s portion of ownership cut down to around 35%.

  2. It’s awesome to see companies talking about, and achieving, zero waste! The EPA statistics show that business / industry in the US generates 214 million tons per year of waste. That’s estimated to cost companies collectively around $22 Billion just in landfill tipping fees. When you can find a secondary use for the stuff you currently put into the landfill, you not only make a little money by selling it, but you also save a significant amount just in landfill fees. Kudos to GM and other zero waste facilities. For those who are still optimizing the end uses of their waste, check out RecycleMatch.

    @BrookeBF from @RecycleMatch

  3. I am impressed that less than 3% of the waste is going to incineration. Some people think that waste to energy incinerators are the way to go though redesign, reuse and recycling before incineration are a much more efficient use of our resources!

    Love to hear more stories like this via @merrinpearse

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