A Conversation with GM’s Supplier Environmental Excellence Winner

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A Conversation with GM’s Supplier Environmental Excellence Winner

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General Motors presents the GDC team with the GM Environmental Excellence Award.

Monday, February 4, 2013 - 2:15pm

CAMPAIGN: GM Waste Reduction


General Motors works with many suppliers and partners that demonstrate efficiencies and seek out innovative ways to incorporate recycling into daily business. Our relationship with GDC, Inc., a tier one component supplier, is a good example.

We recently presented GDC with our 2013 Environmental Excellence Award for supplying recycled-content parts and contributing to community-based stewardship and recycling initiatives. For example, it was instrumental in helping insulate sleeping bags for the homeless using leftover sound absorption material from production of Chevrolet Malibu and Buick Verano sedans, as well as turning oil-soaked booms into parts for the Chevrolet Volt.

GDC is the eighth supplier recognized with this annual award. Here we talk with Chris Miller about its developments and projects with GM, as well as its perspective on the industry.

Given GDC’s reach in the automotive industry and beyond, do you see your sustainability efforts as part of a larger industry trend?

Yes.  Companies such as General Motors are continuing to up their efforts year after year.  Companies have made sustainability a part of their overall strategy, and we are really starting to see the results of those efforts.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for recycled content?

This is a big question that has many answers, so I will just pick one. Changing the perception of recycled content products is the biggest opportunity.  Quite often, when people think of recycled content product, they think it is an inferior product.  That does not have to be the case.  There are many examples of products used on autos and other products that have recycled content, and perform as designed.

How are automakers responding to the challenge?

Each OEM has its own strategic sustainability plan, and they can differ quite a bit.  One might be focused more on recycling or reuse.  Another OEM may be focused more on reducing the amount of non-renewable materials used in the vehicle. Regardless of the path, the exciting thing is that there is significant progress and action, where just 10 years ago, this was almost non existent.

GDC continues to participate in stewardship projects with lasting societal impact; tell us about your experiences with Veronika Scott’s coats for the homeless and the Chevrolet Volt boom recycling.

Both the “Oil boom to Volt parts” and “The Homeless coat insulation” projects were extremely challenging, but every bit as rewarding.  Regardless, part of GDC’s mission – and mine personally – is to have societal and environmental impacts and provide safe, meaningful work.  It feels good to show what can be done in this world when we, as industry, want to.

Where do you envision the industry going in terms of recycled content?

Only up.  Recycled content is not a marketing gimmick.   It’s the efficient use of resources.  We do it in our personal lives.  Ever go to a garage sale or wear a hand me down?  Industry is catching up.  Cultures are changing.  Consumers are  being more deliberate with their spending. And competition is getting stronger.  We must recycle as part of an overall sustainability strategy.  Those that do more with less will grow and survive.

Keywords: Environment | GM Beyond Now | General Motors | automotive industry | csr | environment | supplier | sustainability

CAMPAIGN: GM Waste Reduction