GM used roughly 17 million pounds of recycled plastic in its vehicles last year, with many of the automaker’s vehicles utilizing reclaimed material for wheelhouse liners, HVAC ducts, center consoles and more.
In its 2021 Sustainability Report, GM outlined the steps it is taking to use more sustainable materials in its vehicles, including recycled plastics. While recycled plastics are not used on all new GM products, the automaker says that each small improvement “provides valuable insights,” into its sustainability push and brings the automaker closer to its goal of being a more eco-friendly company.
The infographic above provides a breakdown of where GM used recycled plastics in its vehicles. Wheelhouse liners are most often comprised of recycled plastics in GM vehicles, with the automaker using 11 million pounds worth of reclaimed material to make such components last year. Ducting for the HVAC system is second at two million pounds, followed by center consoles at 1.8 million pounds, window support brackets at 2.3 million pounds and underbody shields at 644,341 pounds. Parts less commonly comprised of recycled plastics include fans and shrouds, generator covers, hood seals and tow hook covers.
GM says it is also currently collaborating with its plastics suppliers to advance circular economy practices and support the responsible utilization of resources. The automaker has also spoken to suppliers who plan to switch to renewable energy for electricity in their manufacturing processes, incorporate biomaterials in their products and utilize carbon capture technologies and carbon offsets to make their businesses more sustainable.
“As we transform our business to support production of electric vehicles (EVs), we are not only considering (end-of-life) reusability and recyclability but also working to ensure the use of sustainable materials in our vehicles from inception,” the automaker said in its 2021 Sustainability Report.
Recycled materials are becoming more commonplace in the automotive industry as automakers look to make their products more eco-friendly. Apart from hard plastics, major automakers have leveraged reclaimed material for seating upholstery, wood interior trim, carpeting, seat cushions and more. Sustainable non-recycled materials are also becoming more popular, such as Eucalyptus plant fiber upholstery, or leather died using plants or other natural methods.
GM launched a dedicated battery recycling site last year with the easy-to-remember URL of recyclemybattery.com. The site is intended for dismantlers that recycle automobiles at the end of their life and includes information on how to disable and remove battery packs from GM hybrid and electric vehicles and how to safely store and ship them. It also includes a list of EV battery recyclers in the United States that accept used EV battery packs.