Manufacturing Savvy

As GM Goes, So Goes The Nation

It seems this famous saying is now true again, especially in the area of environmental advances.

Earlier this week GM announced that more than half of their global manufacturing sites are landfill-free.

The company has 76 facilities where all of its waste is reused, recycled or converted to energy. During 2010 the company recycled 2.5 million tons of waste. To put that number in perspective that means you could fill up 6.8 million extended-cab pickups.

And let's not forget the carbon emissions -- the company prevented 8.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions from entering the atmosphere.

How were they able to do this? The found a new way of thinking. "It's all about being creative, lean and rethinking traditional manufacturing processes," said John Bradburn, manager of GM's waste-reduction efforts.

The company has figured out how to turn material byproducts from routine manufacturing operations into new-vehicle components.

Here are some examples:

*Cardboard shipping materials from the Marion Stamping and Fort Wayne Assembly plants are recycled into sound-absorber material in the Buick Lacrosse's headliner.

*Plastic caps and shipping aids from the Fort Wayne facility are converted into radiator shrouds for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups built at the plant.

*Tires from vehicle performance testing at Milford Proving Ground are shredded and used in the manufacturing of air and water baffles for a variety of GM vehicles.

*Paint sludge from the Lansing Grand River plant is turned into plastic material and used for shipping containers durable enough to hold Chevrolet Volt and Cruze engines.

And all of these efforts are adding to the bottom line as well. Since 2007 the company has generated more than $2.5 billion in revenue from their recycling efforts.

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