GM has reached another milestone in its mission to trim waste from its operations. Fort Wayne Assembly, where the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are built, is the automaker’s first U.S. landfill-free assembly plant. All waste created from its daily operations is reused, recycled or converted to energy.
Assembly plants, due to their large volume of complex waste streams and byproducts, are challenging to convert to zero-landfill status. A key innovation to Fort Wayne’s recent accomplishment is a process and material change in its paint shop. This enables processed wastewater treatment sludge to be recycled, which was formerly sent to landfills to comply with regulations.
“Fort Wayne has succeeded in finding sustainable options for these materials while working with other GM plants and suppliers to improve its impact from an overall systems perspective,” said John Bradburn, manager of GM’s waste-reduction efforts.
This is especially noteworthy, considering nine GM operations that supply Fort Wayne with stampings, engines, transmissions and components are also landfill-free.
“We look at our waste-reduction efforts from a larger perspective…it’s not just about Fort Wayne, it’s about greening the overall footprint, including the supply base,” he said.
With this designation, Fort Wayne joins 78 other GM landfill-free manufacturing facilities around the world.
Cutting waste results in greater efficiency and innovation, while creating a strong financial business case for sustainability efforts. Fort Wayne has:
• Generated more than $2 million in recycling revenue last year.
• Saved $1M per year by powering the plant with methane gas produced from a nearby landfill. GM will soon commission another boiler to run on landfill gas, resulting in additional savings and increasing landfill gas used from 15 percent to 21 percent.
• Saved $600,000 per year by converting high bay lighting to efficient T8 fluorescent fixtures.
The surrounding community benefits from Fort Wayne’s employees spreading their environmental knowledge, as well. Each year, volunteers participate in litter and household hazardous waste collection efforts and mentor area students on how everyday actions impact local watersheds through the GM Global Rivers Environmental Education Network program.