May 24

GM converts Gulf of Mexico spill containment waste into Volt parts

 

Yesterday General Motors reported that it is still recycling almost a quarter of a million pounds of oil-soaked booms from the Gulf of Mexico and other waste materials into plastic components for the Chevrolet Volt.

This story has been reported before, but GM considers it ongoing, so we’re giving you the latest. The company obviously wishes to build on its environmentally conscious image, and indeed, it is proving it deserves the new reputation with action.

“GM decided to offer assistance by collecting boom material from the Gulf coast until there was no longer a need,” said John Bradburn, GM’s manager of waste-reduction efforts. “We’re in the process of identifying other areas where the material we have left can be used – potentially in our plants – now that we have a sufficient quantity for the Volt.”


Oil-soaked booms from the Gulf of Mexico are providing enough recycled material to make a production year’s worth of air-deflecting baffles for the Chevrolet Volt.

GM and its partners, including Heritage Environmental, Mobile Fluid Recovery, and GDC, Inc., re-used the booms while also refining out their oil content for energy purposes. In addition, they were able to:

• Re-use 227 miles of the absorbent boom material
• Save 29,000 gallons of water and oil from the nation’s landfills
• Eliminate 212,500 pounds of waste from being thrown out
• Eliminate 149 tons of CO2-equivalent emissions from entering the air

The air deflectors are made up of equal parts of recycled materials. These are: 25-percent boom material, 25-percent recycled tires from GM’s Milford Proving Ground facility, 25-percent waste plastic packaging from its Fort Wayne assembly plant, and 25-percent post-consumer plastics and other polymers from a variety of sources.

Before GM began the project, the only options for the contaminated boom material were disposing of it in a landfill or burning it for energy. While energy conversion was preferable to waiting hundreds of years for the material to decompose, both options end the life of a material that, if recycled, could live indefinitely.

“We applaud GM for moving beyond traditional corporate responsibility efforts and finding a way to turn a portion of the waste from one of the worst environmental challenges in our nation’s history into something valuable,” said Corey Lambrecht, president of Earth911, Inc., host of the nation’s largest recycling directory. “We need more, creative cleanup and recycling efforts like these.”

GM said in 2010 its facilities worldwide recycled 92 percent of the waste they generated. It uses recycled and bio-based materials such as plastic bottles, blue jeans, cardboard, carpet, tires, kenaf fibers, balsa wood and soy in its vehicles.

“We use recycled and bio-based materials whenever possible,” Bradburn said. “Fortunately, we were able to leverage what we know to aid in the Gulf cleanup efforts, produce a high-quality part for a brand-new vehicle and keep the boom material in its use phase all in a cost-neutral way.”

Source: GM

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 35


  1. 1
    Chris C

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    May 24th, 2011 (7:08 am)

    Good to see GM helping out the clean up effort in a creative way and doing it cost-neutral.


  2. 2
    Dan Petit

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    May 24th, 2011 (8:16 am)

    Cost perspectives really are important focal points all around.
    In one way, the next cost announcement to the potential buyer to be made in a few more months may actually be more important than the first MSRP announcement.

    This difference will be how many people will understand how feasible it is to get the retail price down and maintain quality for whatever laws of physics and business practices restrain or accelerate overall MSRP reductions.

    Creative logistics for many to get into the Volt did indeed help them greatly, and apparently, most if not all buyers and lessees are happy.

    Creativity in the ways that the announcement is made is likely also going to be very key here as well. Not referring to marketing creativity, but financial creativity, because there isn’t going to be a very very large decrease in just the year of the current MSRP.

    But still, the reason that this is a critical benchmark is this: People will plan to buy or not plan for a two or three year purchase from then, because of just that difference.


  3. 3
    Mark Z

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    May 24th, 2011 (8:28 am)

    Because the air deflector hits the ground, there is a small amount of material that shreds off. Hopefully it won’t get washed into the ocean or gulf.


  4. 4
    kdawg

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    May 24th, 2011 (8:36 am)

    I wonder what the status is on battery recycling technology. GM filed that patent to replace the electrolyte, but I never heard anything more about it. That would really help the cost go down, becuase the battery warranty/replacement costs would be greatly reduced.


  5. 5
    Dan Petit

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    May 24th, 2011 (8:42 am)

    All types of spent batteries have an excellent raw materials value. One conventional 12 volt ICE battery manufacturer in East Pennsylvania recycles 100 percent of each battery, even the yellow powder from the dried acid on the tops of the cores. (Their American-made quality is so good, they had orders last year for 33 million, yet could only fulfill 26 million battery orders).


  6. 6
    JeffB

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    May 24th, 2011 (8:44 am)

    kdawg: I wonder what the status is on battery recycling technology. GM filed that patent to replace the electrolyte, but I never heard anything more about it. That would really help the cost go down, becuase the battery warranty/replacement costs would be greatly reduced.

    I would like to know the details on recycling the Volt’s battery pack also.


  7. 7
    Dan Petit

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    May 24th, 2011 (8:55 am)

    As I recall, the NewGM process drains the electrolyte, and scrubs the cathodes and anodes with a chemical solution, then installs new electrolyte. Refurbishing a battery if while still inside the vehicle would be an incredible advantage in that the battery might be feasibly recycled to the instant benefit of the original owner.

    This would also make for a very solid and confident advantage to resale value, as most people would agree.


  8. 8
    Rashiid Amul

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    May 24th, 2011 (9:10 am)

    Kudos to GM. Toyota has held the green label for long enough.


  9. 9
    Terrence

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    May 24th, 2011 (9:30 am)

    Wasn’t this a topic here like 6 months ago? Jeff needs to check Lyle’s old posts


  10. 10
    flmark

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    May 24th, 2011 (9:46 am)

    Mark Z: Because the air deflector hits the ground, there is a small amount of material that shreds off. Hopefully it won’t get washed into the ocean or gulf.

    Strange observation. And a little overblown. Ever stop to think about where all those pounds of used up tire tread end up? I would say that if you multiply 1 inch of worn rubber (actually oil) by all the tires that wear out every year, you have the makings of a far greater environmental impact than the issue you mention.


  11. 11
    N Riley

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    May 24th, 2011 (10:16 am)

    Old news is new again. Still, a good update report, Jeff. Thanks. Maybe GM will learn to toot its own horn now and again. Toyota got its green label as much from tooting its own horn (along with the other interested parties doing their tooting for Toyota) as from actual “green credits”.

    Keep up the good work, GM.


  12. 12
    Jeff Cobb

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    May 24th, 2011 (10:29 am)

    Terrence: Wasn’t this a topic here like 6 months ago? Jeff needs to check Lyle’s old posts

    Please see qualifier up top: “This story has been reported before, but GM considers it ongoing, so we’re giving you the latest. The company obviously wishes to build on its environmentally conscious image, and indeed, it is proving it deserves the new reputation with action.”

    N Riley: Old news is new again. Still, a good update report, Jeff. Thanks. Maybe GM will learn to toot its own horn now and again.Toyota got its green label as much from tooting its own horn (along with the other interested parties doing their tooting for Toyota) as from actual “green credits”.

    Keep up the good work, GM.

    I was working on another story yesterday, and I think GM really is into recycling. They recycled this news! :)

    As it is, I put it up sort of as a favor for them, and in the event we have anyone new or who missed it last time.

    For those who’ve seen it, thanks for bearing with me today.


  13. 13
    MichaelH

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    May 24th, 2011 (10:30 am)

    Terrence: Wasn’t this a topic here like 6 months ago? Jeff needs to check Lyle’s old posts

    Jeff clearly says, “This story has been reported before, but GM considers it ongoing, so we’re giving you the latest.” And the words “reported before” are a link to the earlier story.
    http://gm-volt.com/2010/12/20/gm-turning-used-gulf-of-mexico-oil-booms-into-chevy-volt-parts/

    Just sayin’. (edit: Sorry, Jeff, I guess we were typing at the same time.)


  14. 14
    Jeff Cobb

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (10:43 am)

    MichaelH,

    No worries. I checked real quick before I posted, because I figured someone might be.


  15. 15
    jeffhre

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (10:54 am)

    Rashiid Amul: Kudos to GM.Toyota has held the green label for long enough.

    Even though year after year every analysis shows Honda is more efficient, more effective per quantity used and more green than Toyota.

    “Old news is new again. Still, a good update report, Jeff. Thanks. Maybe GM will learn to toot its own horn now and again. Toyota got its green label as much from tooting its own horn (along with the other interested parties doing their tooting for Toyota) as from actual “green credits”.”

    - N. Riley.

    So that’s how they did it!


  16. 16
    Steve

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (11:32 am)

    Just hope the parts are durable over the life of the vehicle. They should be unless something was overlooked.


  17. 17
    Noel Park

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (11:41 am)

    flmark: I would say that if you multiply 1 inch of worn rubber (actually oil) by all the tires that wear out every year, you have the makings of a far greater environmental impact than the issue you mention.

    #10

    True that. +1 And don’t forget brake pad/lining dust.


  18. 18
    Noel Park

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (11:43 am)

    Terrence: Wasn’t this a topic here like 6 months ago? Jeff needs to check Lyle’s old posts

    #9

    Jeff clearly mentions that in the 2nd paragraph of his story. He says that GM indicated an interest in having us updated on this project. What could that hurt?


  19. 19
    Noel Park

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (11:48 am)

    jeffhre: Even though year after year every analysis shows Honda is more efficient, more effective per quantity used and more green than Toyota.

    #15

    Which only goes to show the priceless “halo” effect of the Prius. With the blessing, the Volt will have the same benefits for GM.


  20. 20
    LauraM

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    May 24th, 2011 (12:01 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: I was working on another story yesterday, and I think GM really is into recycling. They recycled this news! :)

    As it is, I put it up sort of as a favor for them, and in the event we have anyone new or who missed it last time.

    For those who’ve seen it, thanks for bearing with me today.

    A lot of these initiatives are started, and then they don’t follow through. Good to know that isn’t the case here.


  21. 21
    N Riley

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (12:22 pm)

    jeffhre: Even though year after year every analysis shows Honda is more efficient, more effective per quantity used and more green than Toyota.

    - N. Riley.

    So that’s how they did it!

    That played a part in the perception people have of a company’s green standing. If the news about your involvement does not get discussed, reported and processed little will be known. Of course you have to “toot” your own horn. Unless you have friendly “parties” willing to do it for you. IMO.

    As far as Honda goes, it is just now really beginning to advertise that it is the greenest car company in the world (or is it the most efficient?). Their latest commercials have this message. GM is beginning to do more of the same. Several other car manufacturers have been doing this type of advertising for several years.


  22. 22
    Raymondjram

     

    Raymondjram
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    May 24th, 2011 (1:19 pm)

    flmark: Strange observation. And a little overblown. Ever stop to think about where all those pounds of used up tire tread end up? I would say that if you multiply 1 inch of worn rubber (actually oil) by all the tires that wear out every year, you have the makings of a far greater environmental impact than the issue you mention.

    I know, because I live next to a concrete expressway, where more than 10,00 vehicles pass every day. Their tires scape along the concrete pavement (which is rougher than 50 grit sandpaper), leaving a fine mist of black powder in the air. The eastern winds blow it across my home, leaving a thin black dust layer over everything, especially on my roof. Then when it rains, that powder becomes black rain and stains my walls and sidewalks. Finally, I have to clean off all that black dust and wash the stains, which drains in the gutters and into the ocean. The local fish eats it and becomes part of our food cycle.

    Raymond


  23. 23
    Rashiid Amul

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    May 24th, 2011 (1:56 pm)

    jeffhre: Even though year after year every analysis shows Honda is more efficient, more effective per quantity used and more green than Toyota.

    Yup. But perception is reality.


  24. 24
    Noel Park

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (2:49 pm)

    Raymondjram: The local fish eats it and becomes part of our food cycle.

    #22

    And we breathe it.


  25. 25
    Noel Park

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    May 24th, 2011 (2:50 pm)

    Rashiid Amul: Yup. But perception is reality.

    #23

    That’s why there’s a PR industry, LOL. Toyota evidently has a better brand of PR consultants than Honda!


  26. 26
    Rashiid Amul

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    May 24th, 2011 (3:29 pm)

    Noel Park: #23

    That’s why there’s a PR industry, LOL.Toyota evidently has a better brand of PR consultants than Honda!

    LOL. You nailed it.


  27. 27
    kdawg

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (3:31 pm)

    Why not just make the entire car bio-degradable?
    http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/green-living/biodegradable-f1-car/653

    Work on the car will begin in the New Year, and it is going to be built out of coconuts. Already a sports car, which has a top speed of 150mph, and goes from 0 – 62 mph in just four seconds, has been built from hemp, potatoes and rapeseed.


  28. 28
    Jeff Cobb

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (3:50 pm)

    LauraM: A lot of these initiatives are started, and then they don’t follow through.Good to know that isn’t the case here.

    Thanks Laura.


  29. 29
    LauraM

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (6:15 pm)

    Raymondjram: The local fish eats it and becomes part of our food cycle.

    The more I read, the less I want to eat fish. I know it’s supposed to be healthy, but given how polluted the water is… And we import 80% of our seafood. If you think that’s bad, who knows what the sanitation standards are in developing countries?


  30. 30
    Eco_Turbo

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (8:26 pm)

    LauraM: The more I read, the less I want to eat fish.

    Steak and pork are looking better and better… can’t eat chicken all the time.


  31. 31
    Raymondjram

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (8:37 pm)

    kdawg: Why not just make the entire car bio-degradable? http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/green-living/biodegradable-f1-car/653

    Work on the car will begin in the New Year, and it is going to be built out of coconuts. Already a sports car, which has a top speed of 150mph, and goes from 0 – 62 mph in just four seconds, has been built from hemp, potatoes and rapeseed.

    What happens when it gets wet in the rain? Will it begin to sprout leaves? It won’t be aerodynamic, but it will be the first vehicle to clean the air and supply oxygen back to us while it is on the road, even when it is standing still.

    Raymond


  32. 32
    Raymondjram

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (8:39 pm)

    Noel Park: #22

    And we breathe it.

    I am already breathing it!

    Raymond


  33. 33
    LauraM

     

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    May 24th, 2011 (11:50 pm)

    Eco_Turbo: Steak and pork are looking better and better… can’t eat chicken all the time.

    Um. No. First of all, I don’t just eat chicken. I eat turkey, duck, and, occasionally, buffalo. I also eat pizza. And pasta. I also eat a LOT of vegetables. They’re very healthy. And they can taste really good if they’re prepared right.

    Second, I live in New York. If I wanted to eat a different chicken dish every single day for the rest of my life, without cooking, I could.

    Third, steak and pork chops don’t really appeal to me. I find them kind of boring. I did enjoy the steak in Argentina, (it’s the thing to eat in Argentina, so I did) but I wouldn’t say that it was the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

    For beef or pork to temp me (and it sometimes does), it would have to be something like a bulgogi burger, or roast pork bun, or dang dang noodles, or spaghetti and meatballs or currywurst. But there are poultry versions of most of those. I do generally taste my friends’ orders when we go out. And they frequently involve red meat. But I usually like mine better.


  34. 34
    Jeff Cobb

     

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    May 25th, 2011 (12:07 am)

    LauraM,

    Well there you have it! :)

    I read Mercola.com, and he’s always decrying the ills of factory farming for chicken, and corn fed (vs. grass fed) beef. Free range is better if you do eat chicken, which I don’t any more than I have to.

    Buffalo, turkey and duck sound great.

    Especially if the buffalo (or beef for that matter) is grass fed. (You get more omega 3 fats that way).

    Like the spicy stuff.

    Ever tried ostrich? It’s a red meat.

    With waters as they are, fish has become scary, especially large-bodied ones, because they have longer to collect toxins. Fish farms are alleged to be as bad.

    I still break the rules and take chances with all of these though.

    Vegetables are good too. I believe in eating according to one’s metabolic type. There is no one-size-fits-all diet. It has to do with your cellular requirements, though adaptations are possible.


  35. 35
    flmark

     

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    May 25th, 2011 (12:36 am)

    Jeff Cobb: LauraM,Well there you have it! I read Mercola.com, and he’s always decrying the ills of factory farming for chicken, and corn fed (vs. grass fed) beef. Free range is better if you do eat chicken, which I don’t any more than I have to.Buffalo, turkey and duck sound great.Especially if the buffalo (or beef for that matter) is grass fed. (You get more omega 3 fats that way).Like the spicy stuff.Ever tried ostrich? It’s a red meat.With waters as they are, fish has become scary, especially large-bodied ones, because they have longer to collect toxins. Fish farms are alleged to be as bad.I still break the rules and take chances with all of these though.Vegetables are good too. I believe in eating according to one’s metabolic type. There is no one-size-fits-all diet. It has to do with your cellular requirements, though adaptations are possible.

    Had venison steaks for dinner last night. Got some venison burger out for tomorrow’s meal. About as free range as you can get.

    So ironic. When I took up hunting back in the 70s, the liberal lefties would decry me for animal cruelty. Now, I see articles about raising rabbits in the back yard (for the dinner table) and how modern (factory) farming is the real source of animal cruelty. Nobody used to talk about hormones fed to animals. Now, bringing in food from afield is deemed the smart way to go. Unfortunately, the city (or digital??) life (and posted land) has made hunting a fading pursuit. Urban deer are now becoming a blight. The hunter/deer ratio is low enough that I had permits to get five deer last year (but good luck with that :) )

    So if you want to be healthy, head outdoors and bag your own free range meat. Hormone free and good exercise, too… and store hours run from sun up to sun down. (I just WISH I was a morning person…or even liked coffee)