GM factories avoid landfill

Car giant General Motors will make half of its major global manufacturing operations landfill free by the end of 2010.

Company bosses announced that more than 80 of its factories worldwide will have to ensure that almost all production waste or garbage is recycled or reused to meet the ambitious target.

However, it is already halfway there, as 33 plants have recently achieved landfill-free status, bringing the current total to 43.

Under the initiative, more than 96% of waste materials are recycled or reused, and the remaining waste is incinerated at energy-from-waste facilities.

General Motors is expected to save more than 3m tons of waste materials this year prevent 3.65m tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere.

An additional 50,000 tons of waste that could have ended up in landfill will be used in energy-to-waste plants.

“GM is accelerating our efforts to be a leader in finding solutions to the environmental issues facing our world,” said Gary Cowger, GM group vice president of global manufacturing and labour.

“As we develop new solutions in vehicle propulsion, GM is also making significant progress in reducing the impact our worldwide facilities have on the environment.”

But the scheme is also helping General Motors to rake in almost US$1bn a year from sales of recycled scrap metal.

In America alone, it is expected to make another $16bn from the sale of recycled cardboard, wood, oil, plastic and other materials – a welcome financial boost for a company that is suffering from rising petrol prices and reduced credit availability.

In July, the company – which is largely known for making trucks and sports utility vehicles and owns the Hummer brand – reported that its sales in North America were down 20% in the second quarter of the year.

The factories that have already gone landfill-free are found across the world, including Germany, Korea, Mexico and the US.

You can watch General Motors explain what they are doing below.

Kate Martin

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