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GM Turns 2 Million Flint Water Bottles into Car Parts, Air Filters, and Coats for Homeless

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GM recycles 2 million plastic water bottles from Flint into fleece

Today General Motors announced the addition of 2 million water bottles to its Do Your Part water bottle recycling initiative, which is converting the bottles into fleece. So far, the fleece has since been used to make Chevy Equinox V6 engine covers, air filters for ten GM plants, and insulation for winter coats for the homeless.

The automaker partnered with Schupan Recycling to collect the bottles from the people of Flint, Michigan. In addition to reducing landfill waste and providing for the less fortunate, the initiative is also helping at-risk individuals better their lives.

GM supplier Filtration Services Group had Flint’s N.E.W. Life Center, a nonprofit that employs at-risk individuals, produce air filter panels from the 9,000 square feet of fleece that has been created from recycled plastic since the program launched in April.

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GM has also donated some of the fleece to The Empowerment Plan, where formerly homeless women working as seamstresses have sewn 6,500 coats that convert into sleeping bags, which are given to the homeless free of charge. The nonprofit teaches its workers skills that will hopefully serve them well further down the road.

“We’re committed to proving to employers that formerly homeless people can be a skilled talent pool,” said Empowerment Plan CEO Veronika Scott. “The end product is more than a coat: It empowers women to take control of their lives and provides the path to long-term, sustainable jobs.”

In addition to providing the recycled fleece (each coat contains approximately 32 plastic water bottles), the GM Foundation has also financially supported The Empowerment Plan, donating $220,000 over the last three years.

GM estimates it has collected 1.2 million bottles from five of its facilities located throughout metro Detroit and Flint, in addition to the 2 million provided by Flint residents. According to GM, associates at these Michigan sites know the importance of recycling their water bottles at work.

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“People want to do the right thing,” said John Bradburn, GM’s global waste reduction manager. “The Do Your Part recycling initiative is a way our employees and communities can connect their individual actions to broader social and environmental causes.”