General Motors continues its work to reduce the environmental impact of its worldwide manufacturing operations, according to a press statement from the company.
“GM is aggressively reducing energy and water use, looking for renewable energy opportunities and significantly reducing waste generated in the company's global network of manufacturing facilities,” according to the press release.
Waste management: One of the environmental initiatives is to make 50 percent of the company's global manufacturing operations landfill-free by the end of 2010. GM facilities achieve the landfill-free status when all production waste or garbage is recycled, reused or converted to energy.
Currently GM has 54 global manufacturing operations that have reached landfill-free operating status, according to the company. This effort at the landfill-free facilities diverts more than 825,000 tons of waste from landfills each year. GM expects more than 80 of its 160 manufacturing facilities will reach landfill-free status by the end of 2010.
At GM's landfill-free plants, more than 95 percent of waste is recycled or reused; slightly more than four percent is converted to energy. No production waste or garbage is sent directly to a landfill.
As a result of the GM's global recycling efforts, metal scrap sales generated revenue of more than $1 billion in 2008, according to the company. In addition to the steel, GM recycled 17,000 tons of wood, 20,000 tons of cardboard and 4,000 tons of plastics in 2008.
In addition, GM's waste reduction efforts at its plants around the world over the past five years have reduced carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 21 million metric tons, according to the company.
Energy reduction: From 2005 through 2008, GM has reduced its global manufacturing energy demands more than 23 percent, according to the press release. From a financial standpoint, GM's energy reduction has contributed almost a half billion dollars to the bottom line.
Renewable energy: Renewable energy sources represent more than 2.5 percent of GM’s total U.S. energy use.
GM says it has the world's largest rooftop solar photovoltaic power installation at its Zaragoza, Spain car assembly plant. The Zaragoza installation covers about 2 million sq. feet of roof at the plant with about 85,000 solar panels.
The Zaragoza installation can generate about 12 megawatt (mw) of power at its highest output. The installation generates about 15.1 million kw of power annually, which is equivalent to the amount of energy needed to power 1,500 homes on a yearly basis in Spain.
GM has two of the largest solar power installations in the United States on the roofs of parts warehouse facilities in Rancho Cucamonga and Fontana, California, according to the company. The solar photovoltaic installation in Rancho Cucamonga provides about 50 percent of the electricity to the facility.
The Fontana array, at just under 1 megawatt, began operating in December 2007. The system generates about 1.3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. It also provides excess electricity back to the grid for use by other area consumers and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 1,200 tons each year.
Beyond solar panels, GM is reviewing opportunities to expand the use of landfill gas as an energy source at a few facilities. The waste people throw out in their trash, when it decomposes, creates gas that is used to fire boilers or generate electricity in six of GM's U.S. manufacturing facilities. This initiative saved GM in excess of $5 million in energy costs in 2008, according to the company.
Water Conservation: From 2005 through 2008, GM reduced water use at its manufacturing facilities worldwide by 18 percent, according to the company.
The San Luis Potosi, Mexico vehicle assembly plant, one of GM's newest plants, was designed to reduce water consumption by 30 million gallons per year. All waste water is pumped into an on-site treatment facility for re-use in the plant.
GM's Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant received a gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, making it the only automotive plant in the world, as well as the largest facility and the most complex manufacturing site, to receive this certification, according to GM.
In its first 10 years of operations, the Lansing Delta Township plant will save more than 40 million gallons of water and 30 million kwh of electricity. At the plant, water is collected from the roof to flush toilets.
GM outlines strategies to reduce enviro footprint (4/21)
April 21, 2009