GM Steps Up Zero Waste Progress

GM shoe sole recycling

by | Dec 16, 2015

GM shoe sole recyclingGeneral Motors has stepped up its efforts to become a zero waste manufacturer by turning byproducts such as polystyrene foam packaging into footwear.

To create recycled shoe soles, GM’s Toluca, Mexico, facilities take byproducts to a warehouse, where it is baled and sent to be crushed and turned into pellets. Those pellets are combined with other polymers to create shoe soles.

This is just one of the efforts that has helped GM increase its count of landfill-free sites to 131. The Luton Assembly and Ellesmere Port Assembly plant in Europe, as well as two engine plants, a warehouse and a technical center at GM’s Toluca complex have achieved landfill-free status.

These new landfill-free sites use a variety of tools to educate employees about the environmental benefits of and business case for recycling. In addition to attending recycling courses and viewing training videos, the teams conduct audits to identify improvement opportunities and recognize employees who drive progress. Some plants designate a green champion in each part of the plant to drive participation.

Hiring a waste management company specializing in challenging byproducts versus general waste was key to Ellesmere Port Assembly’s success. The partnership gave the team a better understanding of options for material such as paint residue and sealants used in the car assembly process.

Ellesmere Port is also in a trial project to wash rags used to wipe up solvent instead of using disposable rags, potentially cutting rag waste to zero.

GM teams are working toward achieving 150 landfill-free sites globally by 2020.

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