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General Motors (and Planet Earth) Enjoys Record Year of Landfill-Free Operations

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GM recycles 2 million plastic water bottles from Flint into fleece

A woman sews coats for the homeless made using a material made out of recycled water bottles from GM’s flint facility

As the year comes to a close, General Motors is touting the record number of landfill-free facilities it achieved in 2016, which exceeded its sustainability commitment four years early.

GM now operates 152 global facilities that recycle, reuse, or convert to energy all of the waste produced by their daily operations. That total is comprised of 52 non-manufacturing sites and 100 manufacturing sites, all of which are helping GM cut costs and environmental damage with their improved efficiency.

“We are committed to manufacturing cars and trucks for our customers in a safe and responsible way,” said Alicia Boler Davis, GM executive vice president of Global Manufacturing. “While we continue to increase the reuse of byproducts, our vision is to eliminate waste by applying the most advanced manufacturing processes and technologies in our plants globally.”

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Through initiatives that include recycling Flint water bottles into engine cover insulation and converting Mississippi River tires into air-deflecting baffles, GM and its suppliers are finding ways to reuse and recycle a wide variety of materials.

All in all, the automaker recycles or reuses 2 million metric tons of byproducts a year, and has generated up to $1 billion from its recycling in recent years.

“We view sustainability as a business approach,” said John Bradburn, GM global manager of Waste Reduction. “We look at ways we can grow and strengthen our business for the long term, and that often means reducing our environmental footprint while maximizing social benefit.”

The 23 landfill-free sites GM added this year are in far-flung locales that include Asia, Africa, and North and South America. The company’s recently established foundry in Toluca, Mexico foundry has solidified that none of GM’s manufacturing operations in Mexico send waste to landfills, while all GM European Opel/Vauxhall manufacturing plants have been landfill-free since 2015.

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