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General Motors Becomes More Environmentally Friendly

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GM Recycling
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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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WHITE MARSH, Md. (WJZ)—The auto giant General Motors is touting the fact that most of its manufacturing plants no longer send trash to landfills. They have 100 such facilities, and as Mike Schuh reports, one of the first was in White Marsh.

More than 400 transmissions roll out of this plant each day. Into Caddys and Chevys they go.

Years ago, such production would have meant a mountain of trash.

Now, everything is recycled. There are bins all over the place.

“Everything in the plant goes somewhere other than a landfill,” said John Peasland, facility manager.

They’ve gone far beyond the easy recycling like metal shavings.

Now with a low-cost modification, they’re getting back most of the oil used to cut that metal.

Much of the material that used to come into a plant like this came in cardboard boxes. Not anymore.

“Really the better thing to do is to make these out of plastic, so these get reused over and over and over again,” said Bill Tiger, plant manager.

Now three tons of cardboard and paper aren’t used.

Corporate wide, GM has turned up the heat on its recycling and environmental awareness even putting solar on the roof of the plant.

“We use these. On a sunny day we get about 20-25 percent of our total power needs from these solar panels, and on a good weekend shutdown we actually sell power back to the grid,” Tiger said.

But not everything can be recycled. What then?

So how does something like this not end up in a landfill?

“That’s easy. This stuff, if you had a match you could burn it, so you can incinerate this and get the energy out of it,” Tiger said.

So now 90 tons of trash per year is recycled or turned into energy.

“This year we’ve improved our recycling 20 percent,” Tiger said.

GM says such attention to detail pays off in the long run.

So what’s next for this plant? In the fall it will start building electric motors that had been made in Mexico.

That new motor will be used in GM’s new electric car, The Spark.

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