GM looks beyond curbing just vehicle emissions in latest plan

By Sayujya S, Desk Reporter
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The American vehicle company General Motors (GM) is targeting not only the elimination of exhaust (tailpipe) emissions by 2035 on all light vehicles it sells, but is also looking to clean up its own operations with new goals it outlined recently.

The company released a series of new goals in its 2020 sustainability report, including reducing how much energy it takes to build vehicles and using returnable packaging.

“In addition to addressing tailpipe emissions, we’re focused on reducing emissions from the inside out,” GM Chief Sustainability Officer Kristen Siemen said in a statement. “That means reducing the amount of electricity, water and waste associated with the production of all vehicles and sourcing more sustainable materials, like those using recycled content and more efficient processes.”

Zero Emissions

In January, GM said it aimed to sell all its new cars, SUVs and light-duty pickup trucks with zero tailpipe emissions by 2035, marking a potential dramatic shift away from gasoline and diesel engines. The company also plans to be carbon neutral by 2040.

In the recent report, GM said its new sustainability goals include reducing operational energy intensity, or the energy used to make its vehicles, by 35 percent by 2035 against a 2010 baseline of 2.31 megawatt hours (MWh) per vehicle. That figure was 2.06 MWh per vehicle last year.

A megawatt hour is equal to 1,000 kilowatts of electricity used continuously for one hour, or the equivalent of the amount of electricity used by about 330 homes in that period, according to data.

Sustainable moves

GM said it also wants to divert greater than 90 percent of waste sent to landfills and for incineration globally by 2025. Last year, GM sent more than 176,000 metric tons of waste to landfills and for incineration, down from almost 300,000 metric tons in 2016, according to the report.

The company said it wants to make packaging 100 percent returnable or made from mostly sustainable content by 2030. It did not have comparable numbers from 2020. GM previously said it will source 100 percent renewable energy to power its US sites by 2030 and global sites by 2035, five years ahead of a prior goal.

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