GM claims landfill-free status for first U.S. assembly plant

Sustainability initiatives help ensure waste is reused. The plant also now generates $2 million annually in recycling revenue.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

U.S. automaker General Motors said its plant in Fort Wayne, Ind., is its first U.S. assembly plant to being recycling or reusing all the waste created by its daily operations.

What's more, the plant actually has found a new source of revenue: it brought in more than $2 million in recycling revenue, according to GM.

Fort Wayne is the company's 79th location to claim landfill-free status. Here are some of the processes that helped GM achieve this goal:

  • A plan to "repurpose" manufacturing byproducts for use in new car parts
  • A policy that sees the pads used to soak up oil and water from plant floors cleaned and reused up to three times; the material is then recycled for use in air deflectors for Silverado and Sierra vehicle models
  • A process the uses cardboard packaging from the plant as part of the acoustical padding in Buick Verano and Lacrosse vehicles
  • An overhaul of the way that the plant handles painting, which allowed recycling of wastewater treatment sludge that previously had to be sent to landfills
  • A plan to invest in another boiler that will run landfill gas to power the facility, which will save about $1 million in annual energy costs and bring the amount of renewable landfill gas it uses to power the facility to 21 percent from 15 percent

Said John Bradburn, GM's manager of waste-reduction efforts:

"Assembly plants are challenged with a large amount of waste streams and byproducts, from varying types of plastics and metals to expendable packaging and containers. Fort Wayne has succeeded in finding sustainable options for these materials while working with other GM plants and suppliers to improve its impact from an overall systems perspective."

The plant also has invested in a number of energy-efficiency programs include a push to cut the amount of electricity per recycled vehicle by 36 percent between 2006 and 2010; and a conversion of high-bay lighting technologies, which saved about $600,000 annually.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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