According to the automaker, all waste generated by the facility, which manufactures all Volvo trucks sold in North America, is now recycled, composted or converted to electricity. The 1.6 million square-foot heavy-duty truck assembly plant is one of Volvo Group’s largest manufacturing facilities in the world, and the company’s first in North America to achieve zero landfill status.
The plant’s waste reduction efforts began in 2003 by first identifying and evaluating all solid and liquid waste streams within the plant. Once identified, the plant’s environmental team introduced a framework to better coordinate recycling efforts and began expanding reuse, recycling and composting.
Volvo says evaluation of materials flow and work with parts and raw materials vendors resulted in a transition from cardboard boxes to reusable shipping containers and the elimination of styrofoam and foam rubber from parts packaging. NRV also changed its paint process to capture, reconstitute and reuse solvents typically used to flush paint lines, and utilize paint sludge to help power a cement kiln. Waste reduction efforts also extend to NRV’s on-site cafeteria, where all food waste, utensils, cups and containers are compostable.
The energy content of the waste NRV is keeping out of landfills each year equates to conserving 9,348 barrels of oil or saving 14,509 MWh of electricity, Volvo says.
In early 2012, NRV became the first US facility to be certified to ISO 50001 standards under a pilot program supported by the Department of Energy. NRV is also the first Superior Energy Performance (SEP)-certified facility to use ISO 50001 as its energy management system standard, the company says.
Technologies including building automation systems, solar hot water heaters and infrared heaters helped drive NRV’s energy reductions and many of the energy-saving ideas have come from employees, according to Volvo.
Volvo isn’t alone in the auto industry in terms of its waste-reduction efforts. General Motors currently has 106 landfill-free facilities worldwide that recycle, reuse or convert to energy all of their daily waste. This includes 45 in North America, 33 in Asia and 22 in Europe. The company has committed to achieving 125 landfill-free facilities by 2020.
Ford earlier this year unveiled a five-year global strategy to reduce waste sent to landfill between 2011 and 2016 by 40 percent per vehicle. The initiative will reduce waste to just 13.4 pounds per vehicle worldwide, Ford said.