GM to Save $15 Million a Year in Recycling Program

GM to Save $15 Million a Year in Recycling Program

a href="http://www.greenbiz.com/frame/1.cfm?targetsite=http://www.generalmotors....">General Motors Corp. said yesterday it will save $15 million a year and reduce its solid waste output by 30% with the international roll-out of a recycling program.

The world's largest automaker said its national recycling program is now operating in more than half of GM's North American plants and is expected to be nationwide by the end of 2001. It also is being rolled out overseas.

"We're finding that what's good for the planet is also good for our bottom line," GM's environmental chief Dennis Minano said in the text of a prepared speech. "We've flipped the financial incentive for the waste hauler, making it more profitable not to haul away waste."

The program provides incentives to contractors to find ways to eliminate waste typically created during the manufacturing process, recycling such materials as cardboard boxes, wooden pallets and cafeteria cooking oil.

The program was piloted in GM's engine plant in Kaiserslauten, Germany in 1994, and expanded to five North American facilities in late 1997 and early 1998, GM said. It will be in each of GM's plants worldwide as soon as possible, including 75 U.S. facilities by the end of the year, Minano said.

Within the first six months, the new approach had cut waste at the pilot plants by almost 22% to a combined 119,000 tons from 152,000 tons, GM said. At the same time, recycling volumes grew by 64% to a combined 82,000 tons from 50,000 tons.

For instance, the amount of corrugated cardboard recycled at one plant in Orion Township, north of Detroit, jumped to 600 tons last year from 10 tons in 1998, GM said.

Other recycled materials include small splashes of aluminum that spill on the plant floor during casting; fly ash, a byproduct of coal-burning power plants now used in Scott's potting mix; cafeteria grease, recycled into pet food and cosmetics; and pieces of windscreen glass, now ground up in reflective paints to mark roads and outdoor signs, GM said.

The automaker said it is in the process of implementing the program in 39 plants this year and next in the United States, Canada, Mexico England, Brazil and Australia. It already has launched it in 17 plants in the United States, Canada, Germany, England and Spain.

The automaker also said yesterday it has replaced more than half of the coal it burns at its Orion Township plant with methane gas produced by neighboring decomposing trash heaps.