August 2, 2013

Reducing Debris to the Nth Degree: GM Expands Landfill-free Sites through Global Collaboration

Our business is global, therefore our sustainability commitments and progress are, too.

This week we announced two more landfill-free facilities in Asia—an engine plant in Rayong, Thailand, and the Cheongna proving ground in Incheon, Korea.  In fact, about a third of our 106 landfill-free facilities are in Asia. These 33 facilities compare to 45 in North America and 22 in Europe.

The key to having our efforts relatively balanced around the globe lies in maintaining an open network that enables our sites to share data, challenges and best practices. No matter what the recycling economy or infrastructure is in any given region, we rely on our collective experience to guide us toward a smaller footprint.

The spread of waste-reduction ideas traverses oceans and continents. For example, the Rayong and Talegaon facilities swapped out wood pallets for reusable, recycled-content plastic containers. Not only do they weigh and cost less, but they reduced waste by a combined 146 tons last year. Their success has GM’s North American facilities researching the use of these containers in their operations.

Tim Lee, our vice president of global manufacturing and president of International Operations, is a champion of this important work as we all share a commitment to the environment regardless of where in the world we’re building cars.

“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,” he said.

Waste-reduction best practices throughout Asia 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.

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 now landfill-free, including 17 in Korea, 10 in China, four in Thailand and two in India.

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