GM Cites 24% Emission Reductions in N. America

GM Cites 24% Emission Reductions in N. America

General Motors Corp. reduced emissions from its North American manufacturing plants by 24% over the past two years, the company announced in its 1999-2000 report on economic, environmental, and social progress.

The comprehensive online report, "Steps Toward Sustainability: General Motors 1999/2000 Report on Economic, Environmental and Social Performance," details GM's investments in the environment, communities, institutions, partnerships and employees.

The published report is consistent with GM's 1994 commitment to the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies.

GM followed the highly respected Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Reporting Guidelines with this year's report. The guidelines are the result of collaboration among CERES, the United Nations Environmental Program and several other organizations that are united to develop a common framework for sustainability reporting.

"We're pleased to document for the public how we work to carry out economic, environmental and social activities without compromising our future," GM Vice Chairman Harry Pearce said. "We are committed to demonstrating that economic growth, concern for the environment, and our impact on society can go hand-in-hand in the business world."

For the first time, the full report is available only online, a move that saved more than 3.75 tons of paper and more than 160 pounds of ink. A small number of a 12-page executive summary was printed on recycled paper, using soy inks and direct-to-plate printing technology that eliminates environmentally harmful by-products.

"It's significant that we're presenting this information online," Pearce said. "Doing so provides instant, complete access to information about our performance around the world, while reducing GM's use of paper and related natural resources."

This is the seventh consecutive year GM has publicly reported its environmental, health and safety, and philanthropic activities. It integrates separate reports that GM used to publish on those subjects.

Environmental highlights from the report include:
  • Emissions releases from North American plants were reduced by 24% in 1998 and 1999. The reduction was due to the near elimination of zinc emissions from foundries; zinc emissions declined from a high of 6,350 metric tons per year in 1995 to 284 metric tons in 1999. Between 1997 and 1999, GM achieved a 28% reduction in "non-recycled, non-product output" -- all waste material that's not used in the final product of any GM operation. The company has set a goal of a further 30% reduction by 2002.
  • GM continues to incorporate Design for the Environment standards when developing its products. This includes ensuring that future products are 95% recoverable at the end of their useful life, using recycled materials in vehicles, and working with the recycling industry to improve its ability to recycle GM vehicles.
  • GM is co-chairing the Working Group on Sustainable Mobility, a three-year project sponsored by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The group plans to determine how the human need for mobility and the types of transportation now in use are affecting the world and assess whether these modes are sustainable. Other co-chairs are Toyota and Shell. The working group also will develop visions of future land transportation systems, looking forward to 2030.
"More than merely highlighting GM's successes, the report also talks openly about areas in which we have challenges and where we need to do better," Pearce said. "GM is making progress in the area of sustainable business development, but we can and will do more."