In any office you go to, you're likely to find a recycling bin filled with plastic water bottles.
General Motors isn't any different. However, instead of placing its recycling in a heap outside of its Michigan facilities, the automaker is collecting those water bottles and giving them new life.
As part of GM's "Do Your Part" project, all of the company's global facilities are recycling their water bottles to make a noise-reducing fabric insulation that blankets its Chevrolet Equinox crossover SUV. In addition, GM is turning those recycled bottles into air filtration parts used at their office locations and insulation in coats and sleeping bags 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," John Bradburn, GM's global manager of waste reduction, said in the company's press release statement earlier this week. "It's about rethinking the process and finding more sustainable ways to manufacture products and contribute to our communities."
Andrew Mangan, the executive director of the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development, gives credit to companies like GM that are thinking about waste more progressively.
"Many of today's businesses are challenging the take-make-dispose model and seeing the benefits of a more circular economy," Mangan said. "From closed-loop recycling to helping launch material reuse networks, GM is thinking differently and getting other companies to join in."
The Equinox is far from the only GM vehicle that incorporates recycled content. The company says its Buick Verano's sound-dampening material in the vehicle's headliner is made from recycled cardboard from various GM plants.
In addition, its Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks' radiator shrouds are made from a mix of plastic caps, shipping parts and other recycled materials from the company's Fort Wayne plant. GM even has test tires from its Milford Proving Ground shredded down and used to produce air and water baffles for several of its cars.
Altogether, GM counts 131 landfill-free facilities worldwide, recycling the equivalent of 38 million garbage bags of byproducts annually, meaning the company will be saving plenty of money when it comes to these parts.
Everything adds up.