The facilities which we own or operate around the world have a long history of tracking their waste and implementing recycling and re-use opportunities. With a focus on improvement for many years, and with frequent communication of best practices among facilities, we achieved a major milestone as we announced our 100th landfill-free facility in early 2012. This means that all waste from daily operations is recycled, reused or converted to energy. Globally, waste converted to energy accounts for only two percent of our total waste from manufacturing and nonmanufacturing facilities.
To put this into perspective, a single plastic bag of household garbage represents more trash going to a landfill than that sent from 100 of our landfill-free GM facilities combined. Our landfill-free roster includes more than half of our global manufacturing facilities. No other automaker has as many landfill-free facilities as GM, a claim that has been verified by an independent third party.
In 2011, we reduced total waste generated per vehicle by two percent at our global manufacturing facilities. We also recycled or reused 2.5 million metric tons of waste from our manufacturing and nonmanufacturing facilities — the equivalent of 38 million trash bags. In doing so, we also avoided 10 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions. Our progress during the past 12 months places us well on track to hit our 2020 commitment to achieve an additional 25 more landfill-free sites and reduce total waste by another 10 percent (from the 2010 base year).
Our leadership in waste reduction is attributable to proven initiatives, creative thinking and passionate discipline. At our Rosario plant in Argentina, the use of polycarbonate glasses in the cafeteria avoids 1.5 million disposable cups from being sent to landfills. The cafeteria also treats 10 tons of its organic waste on site at the compost plant. The resulting high-nutrient compost is used as a natural fertilizer in gardens at our Rosario plant.
We also focus on ways to convert material by-products from routine manufacturing operations into new vehicle components. This expertise has resulted in closed-loop systems whereby GM cardboard shipping and postindustrial materials become sound-absorption materials in Buick LaCrosse and Verano headliners.
In this application, 95 percent of the headliner by weight is from recycled material — 25 percent cardboard and 70 percent postindustrial. Other examples include plastic caps and shipping aids from our Fort Wayne Assembly Operation that are used in radiator shrouds for Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks, and shredded tires from our Milford vehicle performance test operations find new life as 25 percent (by weight) of the air and water baffles in the 2010 Chevrolet Volt.
2020 Commitment: Reduce total waste from facilities by 10 percent.*
Key to our landfill-free designation is our commitment to understand and track where our materials go after leaving our plants. A robust data system enables us to research, audit and validate that materials are indeed being recycled or reused. Waste recycling and waste reduction have become hallmarks of our culture in which our employees, service providers and suppliers pay attention to detail and challenge conventional manufacturing operations. This engagement enables our facilities to increase the recycling of waste materials and to reduce total waste from global operations. In 2011, we generated 51 kg of total waste per vehicle manufactured. When metal scrap, foundry sands and foundry process-related waste are included, the number increased to 310 kg of waste per vehicle manufactured.
We reused and recycled 2.5 million metric tons in 2011 (or 90 percent of our total manufacturing and nonmanufacturing waste, excluding event waste). We landfilled 0.2 million metric tons, or only eight percent of our global total waste, and we recovered (waste to energy recovery) 0.065 million metric tons, which is only two percent of our global total.
As we pursue future zero-waste goals, we must work through several challenges. These include the lack of recycling infrastructure in many regions of the world in which we operate and local regulations that require landfill disposition for certain materials. As an industry leader, we are sharing best practices to help policymakers and others better understand waste streams and potential recycling solutions. Given our size, we also have the opportunity to drive and positively influence the global recycling trade.
We know we have the creativity and commitment to find sustainable solutions. This is consistent with the alignment of our sustainability and business models. As a result, our waste reduction, re-use and recycling efforts have saved the company* approximately $2.5 billion between 2007 and 2010. That is money that was not generated by selling vehicles, but by creating a comprehensive by-products management system, increasing process efficiencies and eliminating costs.
2020 Commitment: Promote landfill-free facilities to achieve 100 landfill-free manufacturing sites and 25 nonmanufacturing sites.*