General Motors engine plant achieves landfill-free status

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: energy management
General Motors’ Tonawanda (N.Y.) Engine Plant, the world's largest engine manufacturing facility and a producer of E85 FlexFuel engines, has achieved landfill-free status in its manufacturing operations by reducing waste generation, recycling and converting waste to energy. More than 95 percent of the waste materials from the plant’s manufacturing operations (23,233 tons annually) are recycled and nearly 5 percent (or 1,060 tons annually) are converted to energy at waste-to-energy facilities.

The plant is the second GM plant in the U.S., and one of a very few automotive plants in the world to reach this achievement. The GM Flint Engine South Plant in Flint, Mich., was the first GM plant to achieve zero landfill status in its manufacturing operations in March, 2005.

“The Tonawanda Engine plant is a great example of how the people of General Motors are translating our corporate goal to reduce waste into meaningful progress at our plants,” said Elizabeth A. Lowery, GM vice president, Environment and Energy. “Consider the size of the plant. It has 2,500 people on site and produces over four thousand engines a day - yet it doesn’t send any waste from those operations to a landfill. The average American generates several pounds of waste a day that will eventually end up in a landfill. “

Work toward achieving this goal began in 2001 as part of the plant's ISO 14001 Environmental Management initiatives.

“The people at the Tonawanda Engine Plant worked very hard to achieve this goal,” said plant manager John Crabtree. “We are proud of our employees and contractors at Tonawanda for leading the way to reach this milestone.”

From an energy conservation standpoint, the 1,060 tons of plant waste used to produce energy are equivalent to the use of 502 tons of coal in a utility boiler to produce electricity. The power generated is enough to provide the annual electricity needs of more than 250 homes. Tonawanda’s commitment to energy conservation is part of a GM global strategy and has resulted in the plant receiving the 2005 Energy Star Performer Award from General Motors. The plant reduced its energy use by more than 30 percent since 2000.

In North America, GM facilities have reduced non-recycled waste by over 67 percent since 1997 by either eliminating the generation of waste or increasing recycling. These same North American facilities currently recycle nearly 88 percent of the waste they generate. Globally, the recycling rate for GM facilities is approximately 86 percent. GM was one of the first organizations – and to date is the only auto manufacturer – inducted into the U.S. EPA WasteWise Hall of Fame. This recognition was the result of continual outstanding waste reduction and recycling efforts at GM. For more information about GM environmental initiatives go to

GM is not only committed to improving the environmental impact of its operations, but also its vehicles. GM is continually improving the emissions and fuel economy performance of its vehicles with the use of advanced technologies and alternative fuels.

“At this facility, we have built almost 170,000 High Value V6 E85 FlexFuel engines that go into the Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo,” said Crabtree. “This allows for decreased emissions and less dependence on petroleum.” GM has nearly 2 million E85 FlexFuel vehicles on the road in all 50 states, and by the end of the decade GM will more than double that amount.

Examples of the benefits of using E85 fuel, which is made of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline and is considered an alternative fuel, include:

  • Using E85 helps to reduce greenhouse gases.
  • Using E85 helps to reduce dependence on petroleum.
  • Ethanol, the major component of E85, is a renewable fuel.
  • Using E85 ethanol helps to improve vehicle performance because E85 ethanol has a higher octane rating than gasoline which allows for more horsepower and torque.
  • Using E85 ethanol can help to support the domestic agriculture industry.

The GM Tonawanda Engine Plant also builds the 2.2-liter Ecotec engine, which powers the Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR. The Inline 4- and 5-cylinder engines, also machined and assembled at the Tonawanda plant, power the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size pickups and the HUMMER H3 SUV. Another engine manufactured at Tonawanda is the 8.1 liter engine (Big Block V-8), which is used for larger trucks and marine and industrial applications. Most recently the Tonawanda plant began manufacturing the 3.5 and 3.9 liter HVV6 engines (High Value V6), for the Pontiac G6, several sport vans and the Chevrolet Malibu, Monte Carlo and Impala. The plant was built in 1937 and has 3.1 million square feet. The Tonawanda Engine Plant produced 1.1 million engines in 2005. GM employs approximately 2,500 people at the plant.

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