July 30, 2013

GM expands landfill-free efforts in Asia

General Motors' Rayong engine plant in Thailand and Cheongna proving ground in Korea are now landfill-free, bringing the company's total to 33 sites throughout Asia that recycle, reuse or convert to energy all of their daily waste. GM's landfill-free facility count in Asia compares
to 45 in North America and 22 in Europe.

"Regardless of where our teams are building cars for our customers around the world, we all share a commitment to the environment," said Tim Lee, GM Vice-President Global Manufacturing and President of International Operations. "We work with all of our plants to ensure they have a roadmap to get to landfill-free, which is important considering our commitment of 125 landfill-free facilities by 2020."

A benefit of GM's consistent and structured landfill-free process is the ability for facilities around the world to discuss challenges and get ideas to help cut waste. These efforts help the company balance its landfill-free progress around the globe.

For example, 70 per cent of waste at GM manufacturing plants in Asia is packaging materials such as wood and cardboard. GM's plant in Rayong, Thailand,as well as its plant in Talegaon, India, swapped wood pallets for reusable, recycled-content plastic containers that weigh and cost less. The two facilities reduced wood pallet waste by a combined 146-tons last year, success that now has GM's North American operations researching the use of these plastic containers in their operations.

"Wood pallets oftentimes aren't built to be reused after one overseas shipment," said John Bradburn, GM Manager of waste-reduction efforts. "Our most common recycling method is to grind them for mulch, and our South Africa plant is even taking them apart to make furniture. But our teams in Asia employed a more sustainable solution. By using plastic, they cut weight by more than half and we can continue using them after the initial load."

Waste collection and separation systems also lead to improvements. For example, employees at GM's Changwon operations in Korea adopted new recycling containers and signage that helped eliminate 35-tons of mixed waste.

Waste-reduction best practices range from high-tech processes to minimise sludge from waste water treatment, painting or grinding, to locally sourcing and sanitising gloves for reuse. The latter reduced waste at the Talegaon plant 10-tons in one year alone.

The Cheongna proving ground in Incheon, Korea is recycling materials required for vehicle development and research, including batteries, plastic, chassis components, packaging and chemicals.

GM's landfill-free manufacturing footprint spans assembly, powertrain, casting and stamping plants, and includes non-manufacturing facilities such as office buildings, warehouses and distribution centers. About half of GM's operationsin Asia are landfill-free, including17 in Korea, 10 in China, four in Thailand and two in India. GM's worldwide total is 106.

GM recycles and reuses more waste from its manufacturing facilities than any other automaker, and no other automaker has as many sites contributing zero waste to landfill. The company published a downloadable blueprint, 'The Business Case for Zero Waste', intended to help businessesof all sizes and industries reduce waste and create efficiencies.


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