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Akhila Vijayaraghavan headshot

GM Receives Award for Waste-Management Progress

I wrote about General Motors' ambitious recycling targets and how the company is saving itself  millions of dollars last year. Now it appears that the company was named a Michigan Green Leader by the Detroit Free Press for growing its landfill-free program in 2011. The annual award recognizes businesses, individuals  and organizations working to make the state a greener place to live and work.

GM has been setting strict targets for itself and is in the process of making all its plants landfill-free. Last year alone, the Detroit car company added eight manufacturing and nine non-manufacturing facilities to its landfill-free list, bringing the count to 81 and 16, respectively. These plants reuse, recycle or convert waste to energy on a daily operational basis.  

There are several things that the company does to reduce waste including reworking pallets to form wood beams for the homebuilding industry and reusing absorbent pads for cleaning oil and water. Its Customer Care and Aftersales headquarters is based in Grand Blanc, Michigan. The grounds, which are a wildlife habitat certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council, feature scrap Chevrolet Volt battery covers GM engineers have converted into duck nesting boxes.

According to John Bradburn, GM's manager of waste-reduction efforts, “This program helps us reduce our footprint while creating environmental awareness among employees and communities. It’s also good for our bottom line as we further optimize waste streams for efficiency and generate revenue from our byproducts.”

GM also engages the communities it operates out of in its waste reduction program. They have organized events like litter clean-ups and household recycling programs. They also share best practices and even provide companies with plant tours to teach them how to reduce waste and increase recycling. The company recently committed to achieving 100 landfill-free manufacturing and 25 non-manufacturing sites by 2020.

Through these measures, the company is proving that waste management is not merely good CSR or a best practice but that it actually affects the bottom line. GM's waste management initiatives have not only saved the company dollars but have also created an additional revenue stream for the company.

All these measures have made GM the front-runner when it comes to waste management and this is something that competition wants to recognize. During the Green Leaders competition, panels of independent judges selected GM and 16 other winners from more than 100 entries from across the state. The winners will accept their awards at a ceremony on April 27 in Detroit.

Akhila Vijayaraghavan headshotAkhila Vijayaraghavan

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net

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