Quality Magazine

GM Commits to Landfill-Free Manufacturing

September 24, 2008

WARREN, MI - General Motors announced a commitment to make half of its major global manufacturing operations landfill-free by the end of 2010. When translating the commitment to an individual facility basis, more than 80 of GM's manufacturing operations will become landfill-free over the next 28 months. GM facilities achieve the landfill- free status when all production waste or garbage is recycled or reused.

As part of the initiative, the company announced 33 global operations have recently reached landfill-free status, bringing the company's current total number of landfill-free manufacturing operations to 43.

"Through innovation and commitment, GM is accelerating our efforts to be a leader in finding solutions to the environmental issues facing our world," said Gary Cowger, GM group vice president of global manufacturing and labor. "As we develop new solutions in vehicle propulsion, GM is also making significant progress in reducing the impact our worldwide facilities have on the environment."

At GM's landfill-free plants, over 96 percent of waste materials are recycled or reused and more than 3 percent is converted to energy at waste-to-energy facilities. Eliminating waste to this degree is a GM manufacturing priority.

Not only does this initiative help the environment, it helps the company's bottom line. As a result of the company's global recycling efforts, recycled metal scrap sales are approaching $1 billion in annual revenue. Additionally, in North America alone, GM will generate about $16 million in revenue from the sale of recycled cardboard, wood, oil, plastic and other recycled materials.

Over 3 million tons of waste materials will be recycled or reused from General Motors plants worldwide this year. An additional 50,000 tons will be converted to energy at waste-to-energy facilities. Some of the materials recycled at GM's zero landfill sites this year include 630,000 tons of scrap metal, 8,000 tons of wood, 7,500 tons of cardboard and 1,200 tons of plastic. These numbers will increase as additional manufacturing facilities reach zero landfill status.

Waste elimination and recycling at GM's landfill-free plants and other facilities will prevent 3.65 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere this year. Additionally, recycling materials to make new products reduces energy use and manufacturing costs, compared to using raw materials.