As General Motors undergoes a large-scale, multi-site campus decommissioning project, the automaker has partnered with Herman Miller and Green Standards to repurpose and recycle tens of thousands of pieces of office furniture and equipment.
This circular-economy project not only diverts waste from landfills but is also expected to benefit about 100 Michigan-based community organizations with $1 million of in-kind donations over the next two years.
The Herman Miller rePurpose Program, managed by environmental firm Green Standards, provides a way for corporations to resell, recycle and donate no longer needed assets.
“Millions of metric tons of office furniture and equipment are sent to landfill each year in North America,” said Jon Milnes, vice president of global accounts at Green Standards, in an earlier interview. “When corporations choose to do better, they’re performing a dual service to the environment and to those poorly resourced organizations that are central to so many of our communities.”
Green Standards also works with companies to measure the results, including the landfill diversion rate, greenhouse gas offset and community impact of each project.
Through rePurpose, GM will divert from the landfill nearly all existing furniture, equipment and supplies resulting from renovations occurring at GM’s Technical Center in Warren, the Proving Ground in Milford and global headquarters in Detroit. GM will reallocate some assets to other company locations.
“This reuse program enables us to reduce our environmental footprint while making a positive contribution to our community,” said David Tulauskas, GM sustainability director.
General Motors is the first metro Detroit-based automaker to undergo a large-scale, multi-site campus decommission project. The multiyear office asset reassignment project has the potential to expand across the country, the company says.
Among the first beneficiaries of the rePurpose program is Cody High School in Detroit. In addition to furniture and equipment, employee volunteers from GM, Herman Miller and Green Standards will undertake a three-room makeover at the school. Enhancements to the new multipurpose and parent/teacher spaces will include painting, drywall repair and floor refinishing, among other projects. The rooms are scheduled to be completed next spring.
The rePurpose program contributes to GM’s landfill-free and community outreach efforts. To date, GM has diverted 550 tons of office materials from the landfill through the rePurpose program. Over its lifetime, GM estimates the program will divert more than 2,000 tons of materials.
According to the automakers latest sustainability GM’s recycling and reuse initiatives have generated about $1 billion in new revenue streams.
At the end of last year, 90 of GM’s manufacturing operations (53 percent) and 41 nonmanufacturing operations were landfill-free.
GM has also published a downloadable blueprint, The Business Case for Zero Waste, which details best practices in an effort to help companies of all sizes and industries generate revenue from waste byproducts.