GM BeyondNow: Nine Steps Toward Landfill-Free

SOURCE: General Motors


Each morning, millions of people face the day with a cup of steaming hot coffee to help them get through those rough early morning hours. Then they dispose of their cup into the nearest garbage can and move on to the next task at hand.

But if you’re one of those people, think about this the next time you throw away your morning coffee cup: 102 global General Motors facilities contribute less waste to landfills from their daily operations than your single cup.

Getting to landfill-free is a challenging task. Over the years, however, we’ve developed best practices and are happy to share what’s worked for us.  After all, it’s in everyone’s best interest to reduce the impact we have on the environment.

You can download our blueprint with all the details. In it, you’ll find tips like these to help get you on the right track.

  1. Track Waste Data: Put simply, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Data tracking allows you to comprehend all materials generated, reused and recycled so you can improve efforts. Re-purpose that data to create specific plant goals and metrics.
  2. Define Zero Waste: There is no current industry standard for the term “zero waste,” and definitions can vary across companies. Identify criteria in which any future zero-waste facility needs to adhere.
  3. Prioritize Waste-Reduction Activities: Prioritize projects that enable facility landfill-free designations, starting with: elimination of material, reusing it onsite and then offsite, recycling onsite and then offsite, composting, and converting to energy.
  4. Engage Employees and Build a Sustainability Culture: Help employees envision other uses for material by creating rewards for new waste-reduction ideas and encouraging employees to develop job functions with the environment in mind. Target certain byproduct streams for innovative waste-reduction projects and communicate the solutions.
  5. Strengthen Supplier Partnerships: Develop a circle of eco-conscious parts suppliers and consider hiring resource managers – experts in waste elimination and reduction – to assist at sites.
  6. Resolve Regulatory Challenges: Sometimes various government regulations require disposal of certain commodities, but solutions may exist to avoid landfilling. Work with regulatory agencies to help them understand potential options for challenging waste streams and discuss ways to best manage them using sound scientific principles.
  7. Achieve Landfill-Free: Once a significant amount of the facility’s byproducts are managed without landfilling, develop a procedure including full inventory of byproduct volumes and how they are managed. Route the information to the company’s landfill-free expert to assist in verification of plan to eliminate all remaining byproducts from landfill. Request validation once complete and communicate achievement to teams.
  8. Improve Efforts: After an operation becomes landfill-free, improve the waste performance to reduce environmental footprint and costs, and generate additional revenue. Continuously improve, seeking ways to design out waste versus reusing or recycling. Goal setting also helps encourage employees and maintain the momentum.
  9. Share Best Practices:Helping others helps the environment as a whole, and ensures the robust infrastructure of effective partners necessary for all to succeed.
    1. Discuss best practices and work together to brainstorm uses for challenging byproducts.
    2. Provide other companies with facility tours and processes to offer ideas about how they can cut their landfill deposits.
    3. Engage the community through activities such as litter clean-ups and household waste recycling programs.
    4. Participate in formal and informal external networking opportunities to identify and drive new opportunities for the company and waste community at large. Rather than considering waste as trash or useless, work to think of it as raw material that is valuable and full of potential.

What are some waste-reduction tips that have proven effective for your company?

Tweet me: .@GM BeyondNow blog: Nine Steps Toward Landfill-Free

KEYWORDS: Environment, Conservation, Recycling, Track Waste Data, GM BeyondNow, landfill-free, General Motors, zero waste, Sustainability Culture

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