GM Reaches Century Mark in Landfill-Free Facilities

Automaker recycled or reused 2.6 million tons at its plants worldwide in 2011


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LANSING, Mich. – A single plastic bag of household garbage represents more trash going to a landfill than 100 General Motors facilities combined.

GM recently added its 100th landfill-free facility – a distribution center in Lansing, Mich. It is a milestone in the company’s ongoing waste-reduction efforts. No other automaker has as many facilities contributing zero waste to landfill.  

GM first reduces waste and then focuses on recycling and reuse. In 2011, it recycled or reused 2.6 million tons at its plants worldwide. That is equivalent to more than 38 million garbage bags. Or, more than a month’s worth of trash for every resident in New York City.

“Our landfill-free program continues to strengthen our business by creating efficiencies, generating revenue and inspiring innovation with products made from recycled content,” said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs.  “It’s a mission that’s integrated within our business processes. Everyone here plays a role in its success.”

GM began tracking its waste 15 years ago, and, armed with this insight, improves its recycling each year. The company recycles more waste from its worldwide facilities than any other automaker. All of its worldwide facilities combined – including landfill-free plants and all others – recycle or reuse more than 90 percent of the waste they generate.

In Europe 22 GM facilities are landfill-free. The recycling rate of all facilities in Europe is 99.5 percent - meaning only 0.5 percent of all waste is landfilled - this encompasses landfill free operations and all others. 

“One of GM’s secrets to success is its cultivation of a strong network of suppliers committed to recycling materials and keeping them in use,” said Steve Hellem, executive director of Suppliers Partnership for the Environment, a forum for automakers, suppliers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Their team regularly facilitates conversations, connects companies and even showcases creative recycling examples for others.”

In conjunction with its suppliers, GM recycles scrap cardboard from various plants into a sound absorber on the Buick Lacrosse and Verano interior roof. Air deflectors on the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks are made with used tires from the automaker’s proving ground. GM regularly shares its recycling best practices with companies of all sizes and industries.

In its first sustainability report as a new company, GM committed to achieve 25 more landfill-free sites and reduce total waste by another 10 percent by 2020. Since 1997, the company has reduced total waste by at least 43 percent.

In 2011, GM reduced total waste generated per vehicle by 5 percent at its global manufacturing facilities. Its recycling and reuse efforts last year avoided 10 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions. GM’s landfill-free roster includes more than half of its global manufacturing facilities.

Independent sustainability agency Two Tomorrows audited GM’s landfill-free and recycling leadership. 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’s brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at



All of General Motors' worldwide facilities combined – including landfill-free plants and all others – recycle or reuse more than 90 percent of the waste they generate. GM recently added its 100th landfill-free facility, a parts distribution center in Lansing, MIch.

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