General Motors plans to reduce water intensity of its operations by 35% by 2035, compared to a 2010 baseline, which could result in enough savings to fill about 4,254 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The automaker has also signed the CEO Water Mandate—a UN Global Compact initiative—joining other global business leaders to address key challenges around water security and further aligning to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Moving forward, the company will map its water progress and achievements against the mandate’s six core commitment areas: Direct Operations; Supply Chain and Watershed Management; Collective Action; Public Policy; Community Engagement; and Transparency.
While GM’s operations are not water-intensive, water is required for some manufacturing processes. The company is committed to using water responsibly and efficiently, especially in water-stressed regions. Key examples include:
Zero Liquid Discharge: In the San Luis Potosí Assembly plant in Mexico, the system minimizes the reliance on well water withdrawal, purifying and transforming wastewater into reusable water for the facility’s paint and machining processes, as well as irrigation. GM’s Zero Liquid Discharge system greatly reduces water withdrawal from the local aquifer through its reuse of water.
Stormwater Reuse: At GM’s Factory ZERO plant in Detroit, formerly Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, the company built a system to reuse stormwater in its cooling towers and manufacturing processes, as well as installed additional stormwater ponds and filtration equipment to limit stormwater discharge to the Detroit River. Additionally, the installed stormwater ponds helped reduce stormwater discharge to the city of Detroit, limiting water stress during heavy storm events.
Water Treasure Hunts: The company regularly conducts these hunts to help train local plant employees in identifying water efficiency opportunities and implementing solutions.
In 2020, GM’s global water stewardship and management practices were recognized by the CDP on its Water A-List. CDP is a nonprofit organization that sets the standard for global disclosures for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts. GM says it will continue to take action and find innovative ways to preserve water quality and conservation across its operations, supply chain and manufacturing communities.