General Motors’ Rayong engine plant in Thailand and Cheongna proving ground in Korea are now landfill-free, bringing the company’s total to 33 sites throughout Asia that recycle, reuse or convert to energy all of their daily waste. This is about half of GM’s operations in Asia.
GM’s landfill-free facility count in Asia compares to 45 in North America and 22 in Europe. GM’s worldwide total is 106.
The company has committed to achieving 125 landfill-free facilities by 2020.
As GM facilities around the world work to become landfill free, they discuss challenges and share ideas to help cut waste, the company says.
For example, 70 percent of waste at GM manufacturing plants in Asia is packaging materials such as wood and cardboard. GM’s plant in Rayong, Thailand, as well as its plant in Talegaon, India, swapped wood pallets for reusable, recycled-content plastic containers that weigh and cost less. The two facilities reduced wood pallet waste by a combined 146 tons last year — now GM’s North American operations are researching the use of these plastic containers in their operations.
Waste collection and separation systems also lead to improvements. For example, employees at GM’s Changwon operations in Korea adopted new recycling containers and signage that helped eliminate 35 tons of mixed waste, the company says.
Waste-reduction best practices range from high-tech processes to minimize sludge from wastewater treatment, painting or grinding, to locally sourcing and sanitizing gloves for reuse. The latter reduced waste at the Talegaon plant 10 tons in one year, GM says.
Additionally, the Cheongna proving ground in Incheon, Korea is recycling materials required for vehicle development and research, including batteries, plastic, chassis components, packaging and chemicals.
GM’s landfill-free manufacturing footprint spans assembly, powertrain, casting and stamping plants, and includes non-manufacturing facilities such as office buildings, warehouses and distribution centers.
GM says it recycles and reuses more waste from its manufacturing facilities than any other automaker, and no other automaker has as many sites contributing zero waste to landfill. The company has also published a downloadable blueprint, The Business Case for Zero Waste, intended to help businesses of all sizes and industries reduce waste and create efficiencies.
In addition to its landfill-free efforts, the automaker has begun several other sustainability initiatives in the past few months. In mid July, GM’s OnStar announced a project with TimberRock Energy Solutions that uses aggregation software and solar charging canopies with integrated storage to manage the flow of solar power to benefit the electric grid. It will be the first “real-world” use of OnStar’s smart grid technology.
Earlier this month, GM and Honda announced an agreement to co-develop fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen storage technologies, aiming to complete their work around 2020. They say they’ll also work together on refueling infrastructure.
In May, GM was the first automaker to sign the Climate Declaration, which calls upon federal policymakers to address climate change as an economic opportunity.