John Bradburn has a truly interesting job. As global waste reduction manager, he is GM’s equivalent to a professional hunter-gatherer -- roaming the forest and harvesting discarded materials to be utilized for useful purposes.
Having done this for a while, he’s gotten pretty good at it. Whether it’s turning oil-soaked booms from the Gulf oil spill into air baffles for the Chevy Volt, or transforming battery covers into wooden duck houses. It’s the reason why Bradburn received the White House Volunteer Service Award in 2015.
Last time we spoke, he had figured out a way turn cardboard shipping materials from various General Motors factories into sound-dampening headliners in the Buick Lacrosse and Verano models. He was also using plastic caps and shipping aids from GM's Fort Wayne, Indiana, plant in radiator shrouds for the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups built there. He couldn’t see any reason why test tires at the Milford, Michigan, proving grounds couldn’t be shredded and used in the manufacturing of air and water baffles for a variety of vehicle models either.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Bradburn has now begun collecting used water bottles from employees at five GM locations and turning them into air-filtration elements to protect workers, sound-proofing for vehicles, and insulation to make outerwear for the homeless.
“Recycling is good, but viewing waste as a valuable resource that can be plugged into your operations or products is even better,” Bradburn told us. “It’s about rethinking the process and finding more sustainable ways to manufacture products and contribute to our communities.”
Image credit: General Motors