In October, General Motors published a blueprint for companies to follow to reduce their waste going to landfill. Buried within it are ten cool things GM has done to reduce its own landfill waste. These are:
- Converting 227 miles of oil soaked booms from the Deepwater Horizon disaster into air deflectors for the Chevvy Volt. These provided a year’s worth of raw materials for the air deflectors, meaning no other source was needed and no other waster produced.
- Recycling cardboard packaging into acoustic padding in the Buick Verano and Lacrosse.
- Donating scrap sound absorption material to Detroit’s homeless. No. nothing to do with snoring: the material is used to insulate waterproof coats which then double up as sleeping bags. Neat!
- Reusing packaging parts from within GM and sourced from outside to make air deflectors for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
- Recycling tyres used for vehicle testing into air and water baffles across a whole range of GM vehicles.
- Reworking pallets into wooden beams that are then used to build new homes.
- Capturing the solvents released while painting cars and reformulating them to be used as hardened coating for factory floors. Now that’s creative thinking!
- Reusing scrap battery covers from the Chevvy Volt into nesting boxes for ducks, owls and bats. Big biodiversity tick for that one; well done!
- Creating a community urban agriculture plot out of a disused parking lot by using 250 shipping crates as raised beds. Brilliant!
- Set up countrywide scheme to compost food scraps into garden fertilizer.
There are all great schemes and some show real ingenuity and creativity. However there is a slightly more important message behind this. Not only did GM save themselves 2.5 million tons of waste and cut down their CO2 emissions by 10 million tons in 2011, but they also generated a whopping $1 billion through their waste reuse and recycling schemes.
Sustainability is not just an add on, an ethical thingamajig to be bolted onto the financial report and marketing strategy. It is a whole new way of doing business, and creating a $1 billion stream of revenue seems like a pretty good way to prove it.
Image © General Motors.