Waste management in all industries is changing in fundamental ways, not least in response to the new trend for organisations to create a positive social impact. Waste management is one of the most powerful ways to achieve such an impact.
GM is a case in point. A previously derelict parking lot in Detroit, Michigan, now bears the name Cadillac Urban Garden, marking the fact that the 250 plant beds it contains are made from redundant shipping crates donated from GM’s nearby Orion assembly plant for direct use in the community project rather being scrapped or recycled.
The initiative is part of an overall GM commitment to making all its sites worldwide, be they manufacturing, assembly, or logistical, ‘landfill-free’. Based on a decision the company took in 1997 to systematically analyse its waste streams, GM now has more than 100 sites that are landfill-free. Most of them are manufacturing sites that recycle or reuse an average of 97% of all waste materials, with the remainder converted to energy through incineration.
It takes a remarkable effort to create such results and not all automotive organisations can go this route. It is entirely possible, however, to significantly improve waste management by managing one’s entire operation with waste in mind.