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Designing for the Environment

Sourcing & Engineering More
Sustainable Materials

A sustainable vehicle goes beyond being electric
and incorporates responsible materials and a design to minimize
environmental impact at end-of-life.

As we transform our business to support production of electric vehicles (EVs), we are not only considering EoL reusability and recyclability but also working to ensure the use of sustainable materials in our vehicles from inception.

This will be accomplished through a comprehensive commodity management plan, which includes purchased steel, aluminum, plastics, EV battery cell materials, textiles and more. These materials—that represent more than 90% of the CO2 emissions generated by materials in our vehicles—have been identified as part of our implementation strategy. The plan drives collaboration with our suppliers and applies data-driven strategies that can be customized to the specific attributes of each commodity.

Our Materials Commodity Management Plan aims to procure increasingly sustainable materials via carbon emissions reductions through process innovation, recycled material content, renewable and fossil free energy for electricity and carbon capture utilization and storage.

Plastics

We are collaborating with our plastics suppliers to advance circular economy practices and support the responsible utilization of resources. Some of their strategies to achieve those commitments include switching to renewable energy for electricity in their manufacturing processes, continued recycling efforts, incorporating biomaterials, improving processes in their own business and utilizing carbon capture technologies and carbon offsets. Our plastics suppliers are working to overcome common challenges in this industry, which include increasing costs, scaling issues and the quality of available feedstocks.

Steel and Aluminum

We are engaging with our direct materials suppliers regarding how to make these materials more sustainable. We expect supplier carbon-emissions reductions to be achieved using process innovation, recycled materials, renewable energy for electricity and carbon capture utilization and storage. GM will work to secure supply of low-CO2 metals and materials ahead of their availability at scale. Beginning in the first quarter of 2022, we became the inaugural customer of a Nucor Corp. line of net-zero carbon steel products called Econiq.

Natural rubber

GM is a founding member of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber, a multistakeholder initiative whose goal is to transition the natural rubber supply chain to a more sustainable model. The initiative now has more than 100 members, including Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs); tire manufacturers; rubber producers, processors and traders; nongovernmental organizations; and smallholder farmers. All members are expected to adopt a sustainability policy framework, which covers economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainability and will help protect ecological health, local livelihoods and fundamental human rights.

EV Battery materials

The EV battery materials commodity management plan uses a combination of supply chain carbon reduction, the incorporation of recycled materials and third-party partnerships to help ensure responsible sourcing. While utilizing critical recycled minerals is a significant focus for GM, the advancement of the EV landscape will continue to depend on the use of raw materials until the EV circular economy reaches maturity. Read more about our work with the Responsible Minerals Initiative.

Textiles

Together with our suppliers, we are developing dozens of new textile materials from items such as recycled plastic bottles. We are committed to developing 35% recycled content on seat insert fabrics and 100% recycled yarn for future seat bolster fabrics, overhead fabrics, floor carpets, floor mats and more in our upcoming vehicles. Beyond textiles, we are continually researching new and innovative materials, including bio-based alternatives, lower-impact leather tanning practices and alternatives to chrome plating.

2021 Recycled Content in GM Vehicles

GM is working to increase the sustainable materials used to make our vehicles. While these materials are not all available on all vehicles, each improvement provides valuable insights and brings us closer toward our goal.

2023 Cadillac LYRIQ Debut Edition available Summer 2022, by reservation only.
Additional LYRIQ models available starting Fall 2022. See dealer for details.
>17M
pounds of recycled
plastic was used in
GM vehicles
Underbody Shields
644,341
pounds
Fans and Fan Shrouds
165,375
pounds
Generator Covers
7,000
pounds
Wiper Shields
89,000
pounds
Hood Seals
6,000
pounds
Center Console
1.8M
pounds
HVAC Ducts
2M
pounds
Postconsumer nylon
Window Support Brackets
1.3M
pounds
Tow Hook Covers
28,500
pounds
Wheelhouse Liners
>11M
pounds water
bottles recycled

Battery Recycling
Initiatives

We will continue to evaluate opportunities for second-life use of batteries. However, battery recycling is our primary focus today and a key enabler to more sustainable battery supply chains. Recycling efforts in which GM is actively engaged include:

  • Collaboration with the Department of Energy’s U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium and recyclers to advance lithium-ion battery recycling. These projects are validating recycled materials as alternatives to mined materials for battery manufacturing with the goal of reducing future needs for mining.
  • Strategic sourcing of recycled materials from multiple companies utilizes new hydrometallurgical processes that produce battery materials with approximately a 30% lower carbon footprint than when mined. These processes are used for all returned GM EV batteries as well as all battery material waste generated at GM and Ultium plants.
  • Continuous collaborations with suppliers in effective ways of using recycled battery materials in our own supply chain.

Sustainable Battery Life Cycle: Battery Reuse and Recycling

GM’s EV battery life cycle management (LCM) is a crucial element in GM’s commitment to an all-electric and a zero-emissions future. Since the introduction of the GM Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, we have developed a robust battery LCM program that spans from design, manufacturing and service to EoL and supports our sustainability goals. Ensuring proper LCM can help reduce energy and materials requirements throughout the battery supply chain and is key to minimizing sustainability impacts. We have created an ecosystem that ensures all batteries returned to GM are reused or recycled.

In addition, GM continues to evaluate opportunities for the reuse of EoL EV batteries for second life, non-EV uses. Examples of past demonstrations include our collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to evaluate and test a stationary storage system built with EoL batteries against various use cases including solar integration and back-up power. Stationary storage units were also installed at the General Motors data center office at the Milford Proving Grounds re-using Volt batteries, as well as at a SAIC-GM-Wuling facility using Baojun E100 and E200 batteries. GM is developing stationary storage and energy-efficient solutions within multiple manufacturing facilities with the ability to provide up to 15 megawatts of on-site power capacity.

In parallel, GM’s Global Purchasing and Supply Chain Team seeks to strengthen local supply of raw battery materials. As an example, we have announced work with Controlled Thermal Resources for the supply of locally sourced, low-cost lithium, and with POSCO chemicals to strengthen our own cathode active materials supply chain and localize its processing to North America.

When it comes to vehicle EoL, we recognize the importance of enabling GM EV batteries to be disposed of properly. Today, GM’s recyclemybattery.com website provides vehicle dismantlers with valuable information for disabling and removing battery packs from GM EVs. A list of EV battery recyclers is provided along with information on how to safely store and ship used EV battery packs. We will continue to develop guidelines that support safe handling, storage and transport of EV batteries by EoL processors and to evaluate opportunities to enable recycling of all EoL batteries.

Using Sustainable Packaging

We have established a sustainable materials working group that is dedicated to sustainable packaging. The group is working closely with suppliers and external partners to innovate around current practices and embed circular economy principles in packaging procurement and design.

As part of this work, GM has partnered with WestRock as the preferred supplier for all consumer-facing packaging. WestRock prioritizes recycled content input in their sourcing, averaging 35% to 55% recycled content in corrugated boxes and 100% recycled content in coated boards. Our plan is for any virgin materials used in our packaging produced by WestRock to be certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

In 2021, approximately 8,000 parts for GM Customer Care & Aftersales were packaged in WestRock’s sustainable consumer-facing packaging.

Sustainable Construction Practices

GM’s commitment to sustainability extends into global construction projects. In 2021, GM recycled over 140,000 tons of wood, metal, concrete and plastic produced in construction projects and found reuse initiatives for over 105,000 tons of concrete, soil, asphalt and other materials. We reduced our construction-driven CO2 impact by installing CarbonCure concrete at two GM projects in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Concrete using CarbonCure Technology’s process has a lower carbon footprint than traditional concrete through their CO2 sequestering process.

One of the best examples of our sustainable construction practices is GM’s Factory ZERO Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center, which has been retooled, upgraded and expanded to serve as a launchpad for GM’s multi-brand all-EV strategy. During its conversion, we reused or recycled a wide range of materials that came out of the former factory, including crushed concrete from the floor that was repurposed for temporary roads around the facility.

Factory ZERO Construction Recycling (in tons)

63,208
concrete

3,282
steel

13
wood

126,416
soil

4,804
asphalt