GM's waste-free mantra gains more supporters

Close to 80 GM plants now recycle or reuse at least 97 percent of the waste materials created on site.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

The number of General Motors manufacturing plant facilities that have now managed to completely cut all waste-to-landfill activities has now reached 78, which is more than half of its worldwide total of 145. The automaker passed the halfway point in 2010 and expected to 10 more plants to its landfill-free total by the end of 2011.

The latest plants to pick up the landfill-free mantra are located in Rosario, Argentina. Here are some of the things that the plants did to earn the landfill-free status:

  • Put in place a system to capture paint solvents and reformulate them into a paint that can be cured by UV light and applied to plant floors
  • Adopted a program to superheat materials from solid waste streams so that they can be turned into a non-hazardous material used for construction
  • Adopted an onsite composting program for food wate; used as fertilizer for onsite gardens
  • Embraced policies to recycle pallets, turning them into wood beams that can be used for construction
  • Created a wastewater treatment system that uses cafeteria scraps as the means of breaking down stuff in wastewater

Said Norberto Tinazzo, environmental engineer at GM's Rosario plants:

"Our team made great strides once they began seeing waste as reusable material. Like all GM plants, we thrive on strong data. We understand what waste is being generated and work together to find ways to responsibly manage these streams."

This is the Ivory soap version of "land-fill" free, in that the plants that have declared this status are recycling or reusing 97 percent of the waste materials. The rest is generally used for waste-to-energy applications.

GM started similar initiatives for its non-manufacturing sites, and 10 have been designated as landfill-free. As a whole, GM recycles or reuses about 92 percent of the waste it creates across the global operation.

(Thumbnail photo by Ken Gifford for General Motors)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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