GM’s Grand Rapids Facility Achieves Landfill-Free Status

GM’s Grand Rapids Facility Achieves Landfill-Free Status

GM continues global movement to zero waste; 122 sites send nothing to landfill
Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 11:55am

CAMPAIGN: GM Waste Reduction

CONTENT: Press Release

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., October 16, 2014 /3BL Media/ – General Motors’ Grand Rapids Operations has achieved landfill-free status. The company now has 122 facilities spanning Asia, Europe, and South and North America that recycle, reuse or convert to energy all waste from daily operations.

“Our landfill-free movement is part of our culture of continuous improvement embraced by teams globally,” said Jim DeLuca, GM executive vice president of global manufacturing. “Not only does it make our operations more efficient and help conserve vital resources, but we’re able to reinvest the money we get from recycling into future vehicles for our customers.”

During its drive to landfill-free, Grand Rapids Operations formed a team spanning the environmental, quality and maintenance departments to brainstorm and move recycling and reuse projects forward. Engaging employees to properly sort various waste streams was instrumental to meeting its goals.

Employees treat waste as resources out of place and often turn waste streams into revenue streams. The facility’s oil recycling efforts save GM $1.2 million per year. It recycles and reuses every gallon of oil it buys from a refinery several times.

The facility employs a number of methods to give byproducts a second or third life. With the help of its recycling partners:

  • Grinding wheels are recycled into sandpaper and new grinding wheels.
  • Wastewater treatment sludge is processed and reused as a fuel source for the building materials industry.
  • Absorbent socks soaking up fluids around machining operations are cleaned and reused several times.

After meeting this milestone, the team remains dedicated to continuous improvement. It is focused on reducing the volume of its wastewater treatment sludge and machining operation byproducts.

In addition to reducing the building’s environmental impact, employees engage in community sustainability efforts such as annual Grand River cleanup. The facility also teaches students about biodiversity, wildlife and watershed protection, and has applied to certify its program through the Wildlife Habitat Council. Members of its environmental engineering department mentor area youth in the “Teach for the Watershed” program established by the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. Together they build rain gardens and rain barrels, and test water quality of local streams.  

In addition to Grand Rapids Operations, GM announced 10 other new landfill-free facilities:

  • CAMI Assembly (Canada)
  • Colmotores Assembly (Colombia)
  • Zaragoza Assembly (Spain)
  • Zaragoza Stamping (Spain)
  • Joinville Engine (Brazil)
  • Burton Warehouse and Distribution Center (Michigan)
  • GM Heritage Center (Michigan)
  • Shanghai Headquarters (China)
  • Luton Warehouse (England)
  • Fontana Warehouse and Distribution Center (California)

By these 11 facilities not sending their waste to landfill, GM avoided more than 600,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions. This is comparable to the greenhouse gas benefit of 15 million tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

“Our ultimate goal is not to generate any waste at all,” said John Bradburn, GM global manager of waste reduction. “Until then, we do everything we can to ensure it doesn’t end up in the ground. From connecting our suppliers on special recycling projects to reusing packaging, we apply lessons learned across all of our operations to broaden the positive impact.”

GM set a goal to achieve 125 landfill-free sites globally by 2020. The company also met its 10 percent total waste reduction commitment seven years ahead of schedule.

GM was named a Michigan Green Leader and Green Corporate Citizen for its landfill-free program, and received a Top Project of the Year Award from Environmental Leader for driving a global movement for zero waste.  GM was one of the first companies – and the only automaker – inducted into the U.S. EPA WasteWise Hall of Fame. The company’s blueprint, "The Business Case for Zero Waste”, outlines how companies of all sizes and industries can reduce waste and create efficiencies.  

For more information on GM’s environmental commitment, visit its sustainability report and environmental blog.

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at

CATEGORY: Environment