General Motors has added two more outlets to its global land-fill free initiative – the Rayong engine plant in Thailand and Cheonga proving ground in Korea. This brings the total to 33 facilities in Asia, 45 in North America and 22 in Europe that recycle, reuse or convert to energy all their waste.
That means GM has 100 sites ready to meet its pledge of making 125 facilities land-fill free by 2020. GM says people at facilities around the world share ideas and experiences to help cut waste, which can help reduce costs. Packaging materials such as wood and cardboard make up 70 percent of waste at GM's plants in Asia. GM plants in Rayong and Talegaon, India switched from wood pallets to reusable, recycled-content plastic containers. That allowed them to reduce wood pallet waste by a combined 146 tons last year. In GM's Changwon, Korea plant, adopting recycling containters and signage eliminated 35 tons of mixed waste. See the press release below for more on GM's waste-reduction practices.
This global automaker prides itself on recycling and reusing more waste from its facilities than any competitor, saying none of them has as many sites with zero waste landfill. GM has been at this strategy for several years, and that includes switching over to renewable energy at some of its plants. GM is not alone – you can see serious sustainability initiatives taken on by Subaru, Honda, Ford, Toyota and BMW as well. Each of these global automakers makes alternative powertrain vehicles, and so land-fill-free and energy-efficient facilities are a logical fit for marketing and brand identity campaigns. Of course, what, exactly, "land-fil free" means is sometimes a matter of debate.
DETROIT – General Motors' Rayong engine plant in Thailand and Cheongna proving ground in Korea are now landfill-free, bringing the company's total to 33 sites throughout Asia that recycle, reuse or convert to energy all of their daily waste. GM's landfill-free facility count in Asia compares to 45 in North America and 22 in Europe.
"Regardless of where our teams are building cars for our customers around the world, we all share a commitment to the environment," said Tim Lee, GM vice president Global Manufacturing and president of International Operations. "We work with all of our plants to ensure they have a roadmap to get to landfill-free, which is important considering our commitment of 125 landfill-free facilities by 2020."
A benefit of GM's consistent and structured landfill-free process is the ability for facilities around the world to discuss challenges and get ideas to help cut waste. These efforts help the company balance its landfill-free progress around the globe.
For example, 70 percent of waste at GM manufacturing plants in Asia is packaging materials such as wood and cardboard. GM's plant in Rayong, Thailand, as well as its plant in Talegaon, India, swapped wood pallets for reusable, recycled-content plastic containers that weigh and cost less. The two facilities reduced wood pallet waste by a combined 146 tons last year, success that now has GM's North American operations researching the use of these plastic containers in their operations.
"Wood pallets oftentimes aren't built to be reused after one overseas shipment," said John Bradburn, GM manager of waste-reduction efforts. "Our most common recycling method is to grind them for mulch, and our South Africa plant is even taking them apart to make furniture. But our teams in Asia employed a more sustainable solution. By using plastic, they cut weight by more than half and we can continue using them after the initial load."
Waste collection and separation systems also lead to improvements. For example, employees at GM's Changwon operations in Korea adopted new recycling containers and signage that helped eliminate 35 tons of mixed waste.
Waste-reduction best practices range from high-tech processes to minimize sludge from wastewater treatment, painting or grinding, to locally sourcing and sanitizing gloves for reuse. The latter reduced waste at the Talegaon plant 10 tons in one year alone.
The Cheongna proving ground in Incheon, Korea is recycling materials required for vehicle development and research, including batteries, plastic, chassis components, packaging and chemicals.
GM's landfill-free manufacturing footprint spans assembly, powertrain, casting and stamping plants, and includes non-manufacturing facilities such as office buildings, warehouses and distribution centers. About half of GM's operations in Asia are landfill-free, including 17 in Korea, 10 in China, four in Thailand and two in India. GM's worldwide total is 106.
GM recycles and reuses more waste from its manufacturing facilities than any other automaker, and no other automaker has as many sites contributing zero waste to landfill. The company published a downloadable blueprint, "The Business Case for Zero Waste,"intended to help businesses of all sizes and industries reduce waste and create efficiencies.
For more information on GM's environmental commitment, visit its sustainability report and environmental blog.
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.