The General Motors Renaissance Center now recycles, reuses or converts all its waste to energy, diverting 5 million pounds of trash annually from landfill.
Covering 5.5 million square feet, the building houses the Western Hemisphere’s tallest all-hotel skyscraper (the Detroit Marriott), 11 other businesses, 20 restaurants and 27 retailers. It accommodates 12,000 office workers and 3,000 visitors daily.
The journey toward landfill-free began with a dumpster dive, searching through trash to identify reuse and recycling opportunities. GM teamed with all the business tenants, environmental staffs and CBRE, as well as Waste Management, Royal Oak Recycling and Veolia Environmental Services to increase paper, plastic and battery recycling.
The Renaissance Center now recycles 49 percent of its total waste, an improvement of 127 percent since the drive to landfill-free began in 2011. The remaining waste, including food scraps and used containers, is converted to energy through a facility located a few blocks away.
GM’s says its abundance of recyclable waste contributed to the economic growth of a new business called Hamtramck Recycling. The company sorts the Renaissance Center’s mixed packaging material and odd-shaped and bulky items. The company’s bulk shredder helps GM and other companies in Southeast Michigan manage their waste streams and increase recycling.
GM has also published a downloadable blueprint, “The Business Case for Zero Waste,” to help companies and industries reduce waste.