The world’s two largest automakers, GM and Toyota, each recently announced additional progress in reducing waste to landfill from their operations.
A General Motors Powertrain complex in Wixom, Michigan, has achieved landfill-free status for waste materials generated directly from its daily operations—the third such GM facility to do so. More than 98% of the waste materials from the complex (596 tons annually) are recycled and nearly 2% (or 11 tons annually) are converted to energy at a waste-to-energy facility.
Other GM landfill-free facilities include engine plants in Tonawanda, New York and Flint, Michigan. The three facilities divert over 32,000 tons of waste from landfills each year.
Items that are recycled or reused at the Wixom site this year include 270 tons of cardboard, 37 tons of scrap metal, 35 tons of wood, 13 tons of oil, 11 tons of plastic and 16 tons of paper. About 10 tons of trash is sent to an incinerator and burned to provide electricity. Waste from the site that is diverted from landfills avoids the emission of 569 tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year. In addition, the generation of waste has been greatly reduced at the site.
Work towards achieving this goal began in 2005 as part of the site’s Environmental Management initiative.
In North America, GM facilities have reduced non-recycled waste by more than 76% since 1997 by either eliminating the generation of waste or increasing recycling. These same North American facilities currently recycle nearly 88% of the waste they generate.
Globally, the recycling rate for GM facilities is approximately 86%. GM was one of the first organizations—and to date is the only auto manufacturer—inducted into the US EPA WasteWise Hall of Fame.
For its part, Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) USA recently announced its Think Green! program, which achieves a high recycling rate and zero waste to landfill at TMS headquarters. Think Green! enables TMS to divert waste from landfills and avoid the emission of approximately 1,000 tons of green house gases each year.
Through a comprehensive campus-wide recycling program and further waste sorting at CR&R Waste and Recycling Services’ state-of-the-art material recovery facility, TMS now achieves a recycling rate of 80%. Remaining material is utilized as fuel to produce electrical energy.
In the first three quarters of 2006, TMS diverted 615 tons of materials from landfill—equivalent to the weight of 420 Toyota Prius hybrids. By January 2007, TMS reached a new milestone of zero waste to landfill.