Thinking Outside the Shipping Box

Thinking Outside the Shipping Box

Detroit-Hamtramck waste spurs artistic creativity for local youth
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.@GM FastLane: Scrap from GM's Detroit-Hamtramck facility spurs creativity at #Detroit's @ArtsAndScraps

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015 - 10:20am

CAMPAIGN: GM Waste Reduction


Our Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant has built some of the most innovative vehicles in our product line-up. It created the first ever Chevrolet Volt and is now preparing to produce the all-new 2016 version of the electric vehicle. And now through a partnership with a Detroit nonprofit organization, local youth are using the facility’s byproducts to build innovative art, too.

Detroit-Hamtramck sends some of its facility waste to Arts & Scraps, which uses recycled industrial materials to help children think, create and learn. Using weather stripping and plastic shipping materials that would have otherwise been recycled, kids re-imagine waste into art projects like snow globes, robots and model cars. Arts & Scraps also uses the materials from the plant for projects that encourage students to apply STEM principles — science, technology, engineering and math.

Matt Hofbauer, commodity resource manager at Detroit-Hamtramck, coordinates the shipments of materials to Arts & Scraps. The material GM donates would have otherwise been recycled, but the social impact of providing them to kids to learn and grow creatively is even better.

“This program allows us to give back to the community in a great way,” said Hofbauer. “With a little imagination from children our scrap materials get an entirely new purpose. Arts & Scraps is always extremely grateful for the material we donate, and they are excited to hear about new possible donations.”

The partnership grew from a volunteer project at Arts & Scraps during our annual TeamGM Cares week. After the event, the team offered the manager of Arts & Scraps a tour of the facility to identify items of interest. Plastic caps, plugs, weather stripping and tool bags were identified and the facility has since been saving them for the kids and finding more opportunities to get involved.

“Whenever I talk to someone in the plant that is unfamiliar with the program, it always seems to put a smile on their face knowing that even though our collaboration is small, we are trying to help out where we can,” said Hofbauer. “We look forward to strengthening the relationship with Arts & Scraps through continued donations and more volunteer work.”

Employees from our Romulus plant also partnered with a nonprofit in their community on a similar “trash-to-treasure” project. Sharing best practices is an important part of our culture and one of the reasons our outreach programs have been so successful and longstanding.

At GM, we believe that waste is simply a resource out of place, and our partnership with Arts & Scraps shows that mantra to be true. Byproducts from our facilities that would usually go to a recycling center become pieces of art made by 275,000 children across southeast Michigan annually. By redirecting a few of our waste streams, we’re creating opportunities for learning and reducing waste in our local communities by helping kids to think outside of the box by reimaging trash as art.