In September, GM’s Technical Center in Bangalore, India became the automaker’s 24th non-manufacturing site to reuse, recycle, or convert all of its waste into energy. Since then, GM has added four more sites to its growing list of landfill-free facilities, bringing the current total to 111, with the goal of having 25 non-manufacturing and 100 manufacturing facilities officially declared landfill-free by they year 2020. Earlier this week, GM’s Global headquarters, the Renaissance Center, in downtown Detroit became the 25th non-manufacturing facility to reach landfill-free status. At its current pace, The General should exceed its original goal well within the next year.
Additionally, General Motors is projected to save over $1 billion a year from its landfill-free sites. However, these sites still cannot technically be called “zero-waste” facilities since so much of the waste produced is burned to create electricity. Environmental scientists are opposed to such waste-to-energy incinerators, which are popular in Europe, because they not only encourage waste production (as opposed to recycling), but also produce an even more hazardous waste in the form of bottom ash.
To note, every form of waste disposal has its own advantages and disadvantages, and scientists are yet to have found the perfect cure. Still, it appears to be a step in the right direction, with GM reusing or recycling more of its waste than any other automaker. Many other companies (Xerox, Pillsbury, and Hewlett Packard, to name a few) have also realized just how much money can be saved from reusing and recycling waste, and as a result have adopted similar recycling programs. Hopefully, even more companies will follow GM’s lead as the 3 Rs – reduce, reuse, and recycle – becoming standard operating procedure for all ventures.