Yesterday, GM announced that 62 of its production plants had reached "zero landfill" status by "recycling or reusing all normal plant wastes." In other words, those plants now send no trash that's part of the car-making process to landfills. The company has a stated goal of getting half of its production plants to this zero waste status by 2010, and these 62 plants represent 43 percent of the total, so its nearly there.
The strategies they employ to reduce waste run the gamut. These "zero landfill" plants have been reusing old aluminum, selling off other metals, sending old wood palettes to waste-to-energy facilities, and even selling off cardboard.
It's a little unclear from their press release what exactly falls under the umbrella of "normal plant wastes" but it seems to be that any input to the car manufactuing process counts. So the cardboard box that a bunch of bolts come in counts, but maybe not the waste from a plant cafeteria. At any rate, it's great to see that these reductions are possible and it merits recognition. As long as we're making cars, this is a more resource-efficient way to do it. I would be interested to know if these "zero landfill" plants actually save GM money.