General Motors is decreasing its environmental impact through a number of steps.
Auto recycling isn’t a specific part of the plan, but they are encouraging it. GM’s sustainability initiatives include efforts to reclaim various resources. The company’s commit to social and environmental responsibility is backed up by several company programs and by recognition from third parties.
Dow Jones Sustainability Index:
The Dow Jones Sustainability Index is a regional measure of how well participating companies are doing in reducing and managing their impact on the environment. The index is regional because it ranks organizations in different regions, like North America, rather than globally. General Motors is the only North American auto maker to be included in the index of corporate sustainability.The DJSI rates companies on 22 factors in sustainability. GM recently earned perfect scores in 14 of 22 categories and a high score in the Materiality category. GM did not release their scores in every category. For 2016, the DJSI methodology changed to add a human right component. General Motors scored well on that measure because it recently joined the UN Global Compact.
Recent Sustainability Gains at GM:
The company’s high rating on the DJSI reflects a number of effective environmental initiatives. For example, in 2016 the company exceeded its target of 125 MW of energy from renewable sources. The company actually used 199.8 MW of renewable energy that year. This marks a good start on the company’s goal of running on 100% renewable energy globally by 2050.
General Motors has also made progress in making driving more environmentally friendly. They have shaved tons of weight off of dozens of models. Trimming weight is an easy way to increase a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. A small increase in efficiency across millions of vehicles does have a meaningful impact. General Motors is also selling 11 electric or hybrid vehicles around the world. The GM Bolt, for example, is an electric vehicle with a range of 238 miles on one charge.
The company is also moving rapidly toward landfill-free production. There are 152 such facilities nationwide, which exceeds the company’s 2020 target. These developments are part of what has made General Motors a leader in sustainability in many ways. Climate change is a topic of concern to many investors and consumers today, and GM is one of many large companies try to address those concerns directly.
Climate Change Leadership:
The General Motors programs to increase fuel efficiency, use renewable energy, and produce electric vehicles are factors in the company’s leadership on fighting climate change. CDP, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting sustainable economic development, recently added GM to their Climate A-List. Only 9 percent of companies that participate in CDP’s climate reporting program achieved that rating. The company had previously earned a perfect score on climate disclosure for three consecutive years, but 2016 was their first time GM has been on the global list.
GM Executive Vice President Craig Glidden stated in a press release on the CPD rankings “More efficient GM vehicles means greater fuel savings for our customers. Conserving energy and using renewable resources helps our bottom line.” Renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives also end up being good for shareholders, as lower operating costs and higher sales translate to higher profits.
Recycling and Sustainability:
General Motors has launched Do Your Part, a recycling initiative for factories and for residents of Flint, Michigan. This initiative focuses on reclaiming plastic bottles and turning them into three new products. The company cooperates with 11 companies and nonprofits on this project.
Recycling is not a specific goal at GM, but is built into other activities. Their commitment to no-landfill manufacturing is one example. Waste products will have to be recycled for that goal to be reached. Plastic recycling programs like Do Your Part can be expanded to help meet the company’s sustainability goals.
General Motors has implemented a variety of financially sound initiatives to reduce the company’s environmental impact. Auto recycling specifically might not play a role in GM’s plan, but recycling of plastic, rubber, and metal is clearly in their sustainability planning.