General Motors South Africa Aims for Zero Landfill Waste by 2015


General Motors South Africa (GMSA) is focused on reducing and eventually eliminating the amount of waste which gets sent to landfill sites over the next 3 years. The company has a dedicated full-time environmental team which is constantly investigating better ways of making the company a greener organisation. Reducing the amount of waste material sent to landfill sites is a key priority for this team.

GM South Africa

BINDING THE BAILS: Xolisa Mehlwana works on the bailer (waste compactor) in the GMSA Struandale Plants’ recycling area which is used to sort, separate, bind and compact recyclable material for delivery to various recyclers.

Non-recyclable waste produced during the manufacturing process is measured by kilogram per vehicle produced. In 2008 the amount of non-recyclable waste collected at GMSA’s Port Elizabeth plants was measured at 34kg/unit. Through the diligent work done by the team, this has dropped considerably to 9kg/unit, an improvement of 25kg/unit. GMSA Facilities Area Manager, Lushen Govender says, “what this means for us is that we are pushing the boundaries in terms of incorporating the three ‘R’s’ into our business model of Reducing, Re-using and Recycling of our waste.”

He adds, “GMSA treats its waste streams as a resource. Recycled waste has the potential of being used as a commodity by other organisations or individuals who see inherent value in it. This positively impacts the burden of waste to landfill sites as waste is being diverted to recyclers, further resulting in less raw materials being sourced for these particular streams that are being supplemented by recyclable material.”

And there are plans in place to go 80 – 85% green across all plants over the next two to three years. “We are aggressively pursuing turning two of our sites in Port Elizabeth into “Zero Waste to Landfill” plants with the other two manufacturing sites planned for the 2015 time-frame,” Govender says.

“There is major research and development involved in achieving this prestigious status and we are up for the challenge as we create synergies between our suppliers, manufacturing processes and the environment,” says Govender.

Further plans are being put in place for GMSA employees to collect common waste generated at their homes and bring it to their workplace for disposal containers provided by the company at a central spot.

This initiative is designed to make employees more environmentally conscious and to encourage responsible waste separation both in the workplace and at home.