GM de Mexico wins international prize for comprehensive water conservation
A General Motors plant in Mexico has been awarded the prestigious Stockholm Industry Water Award for 2001, for environmental management techniques that conserve the area’s scarce water resource, whilst increasing the productivity of the facility.
One of the main challenges which has faced GM’s Mexico Ramos Arizpe Complex since it opened in 1980 has been in making best use of a small semi-confined aquifer with a relatively high salt content, which is also the only source of water for the local population of 40,000. The facility has employed a flexible system for wastewater treatment, consisting of simple and high tech processes recovering 70% of its wastewater. The useable amount of the well water has also been increased by 67-94% through the removal of the salt content by converting the brine to solid salts through a system of micro-filtration, reverse osmosis and solar evaporation. The average amount of water which is now needed in the production of a vehicle has been reduced from 32 cubic metres to 2.2 cubic metres. “We are extremely impressed by the wide range of coupled solutions that GM has adopted,” said Björn Rosén, chairman of the nominating committee.
“We had to keep looking for innovative solutions to solve this [water shortage] problem of the region,” said Hank Hale, Director of Manufacturing for GM de Mexico. “Now we even have a treatment waste water storage lagoon with fish and birds as a testimony of our social responsibility to develop sustainable business.”
According to Dennis Minano, Vice President and Chief Environmental Officer at GM, the company is very proud of the people working at the Ramos Arizpe Complex. “As one of the world’s largest industrial companies, General Motors has understood for many years that we must do more than simply provide the products and services that consumers want to buy,” said Minano. “We are guided by a strong, broad, global vision of sustainability and corporate stewardship, combining the power of our people and our technologies to meet the social, environmental and economic needs of the world.”
GM has already won a number of awards for the company’s environmental stewardship which, last year, included Fred Schmitt Award for Outstanding Corporate Leadership for a resource management programme which reduced the company’s solid waste by 30%; and Global Green USA 2000 for its advancements in alternative vehicle technology with the EV1, Precept and Hybrid Bus (see related story). The company has also this week made the largest ever donation to a conservation project (see related story in World section). This latest prize will be awarded to the company on August 15 during the annual World Water Week in Stockholm.
Last year’s Stockholm Industry Water Prize was the first to be awarded, and went to Northumbrian Water Ltd for its initiative to achieve a regional solution to sewage treatment and disposal (see related story).