General Motors is now trash-free at 100 locations.
The automaker said Tuesday that it had achieved the "zero-to-landfill" milestone at a parts distribution center in Lansing. GM recycles or reuses about 90 percent of its waste worldwide, adding up to about 38 million trash bags per year.
"What that means quite literally is that no materials leave this plant and end up in a landfill," Mike Robinson, GM vice president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs, said in a conference call. "All the waste that normally would have been generated from this operation has been recycled and reused and a very small percentage converted to energy. That's true of the other 99 facilities around the world, as well."
GM, which received a Detroit Free Press Michigan Green Leaders award in April for its environmental efforts, incorporates recycling ideas from its employees. For example, engineers converted Chevrolet Volt battery-pack covers that were scrapped during the development process into wood-duck nesting boxes at the Wildlife Habitat Council-certified grounds of GM's Customer Care & Aftersales Center in Grand Blanc.
It also uses some recycled waste in its own vehicles, such as scrap cardboard that's transformed into sound absorbers on the Buick LaCrosse and Verano interior roof.
More than half of the company's 156 manufacturing plants are now landfill-free.
The Detroit-based automaker isn't just doing this for the sake of being green. GM has recorded about $2.5 billion in revenue from its recycling over the past seven to 10 years, Robinson estimated.
"There's a very compelling business case," he said. "It is a carefully measured metric and it's a way of running the business that we think makes sense from both a pure financial standpoint as well as, of course, from an environmental standpoint."
GM said an independent auditing agency called Two Tomorrows examined its commitment to environmental sustainability.
The biggest hurdle is converting assembly plants to landfill-free status because of the challenge of recycling substances like paint and the chemicals used in the painting process.
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