GM facilities around the world vary in function, geography, size and surrounding natural environments, which gives rise to varying concerns such as resource scarcity and different levels of environmental compliance requirements.
Although GM-owned and -operated facilities have their own operating plans depending on their location, all function under a common Global Environmental Policy, which provides an effective foundation for environmental stewardship.
GM has a robust process to enhance the integration of environmental sustainability practices into daily business decisions and to:
- Comply with applicable environmental laws and regulations globally.
- Monitor our performance according to GM’s own Environmental Performance Criteria (EPCs), which are universal corporate performance requirements designed to protect human health and the environment in accordance with the GM Global Environmental Policy.
- Conform to key sustainability performance indicators and environmental performance metrics.
Each GM manufacturing site has one or more environmental leaders, who are supported by a GM regional environmental leader and a team of subject matter experts in regional central offices. We also have an annual business planning process, known as Business Plan Deployment (BPD), to strengthen the management of environmental performance. This process links our Global Manufacturing salaried employees and their annual compensation to GM Sustainability Commitments. Performance on BPD metrics and goals is monitored monthly at all GM manufacturing sites. Action plans are developed as needed to ensure we keep performance on track.
As a responsible corporate citizen, GM’s Global Environmental Policy and Guiding Environmental Commitments provide guidelines to help reduce the impact of our activities on the environment.
Our global guidelines play a significant role in our overall environmental compliance, ensuring that local plant policies:
- Are appropriate to the nature, scale and environmental impacts of each plant’s activities, products or services.
- Reinforce a commitment to comply with applicable laws and regulations and with other relevant environmental requirements.
- Include a commitment to continuous improvement and pollution prevention.
- Provide the framework for setting and reviewing environmental goals and targets.
- Are documented, implemented, maintained and communicated to all employees.
Statutory, regulatory and permit programs administered by various governmental agencies in different jurisdictions impose numerous environmental requirements on our facilities and products. Compliance with applicable environmental requirements is an organizational imperative. Compliance issues occasionally arise, and each allegation of noncompliance is treated seriously by GM. In 2021, GM received 15 Notices of Violation, 12 in the United States and three outside the United States. GM paid one penalty over $10,000 in 2021, at a cost of $10,500.
GM’s Guiding Environmental Commitments are the foundation of our Global Environmental Policy. The Commitments serve as a guide for all GM employees worldwide, encouraging environmental awareness in both daily conduct and in the planning of future products and programs.
Environmental Management System (EMS)
All manufacturing facilities that GM owns and operates, and a majority of our nonmanufacturing sites around the world, have implemented an EMS. GM’s EMS combines elements of ISO 14001 and management system elements that are unique to our operations.
From 2019 through 2022, GM developed and implemented an aligned, global, third-party certified ISO 14001 enterprise program. This integration ensures we achieve our environmental commitments as a normal part of our business activities.
GM continues to expand our EMS programs into other company entities when and where there is a recognized identified benefit.
Conducted benchmarking of industry best practices associated with ISO 14001 certification models.
Began redesign of GM’s EMS ISO 14001 program in the United States from individually conforming programs to a holistic, global enterprise conformance model.
Aligned North American manufacturing sites under a common ISO 14001 framework and developed a construct to transition global facilities into this common EMS framework.
Conducted third-party audits of GM’s Global ISO 14001 Enterprise Program resulting in one Minor Finding issued by the Registrar auditing company.
Global Enterprise ISO 14001 Certificate was issued to GM on February 21, 2022.
Expanding the global ISO 14001 enterprise program to include new manufacturing operations and additional nonmanufacturing sites.
Implementation of our Guiding Environmental Commitments is facilitated by GM EPCs that apply to our global facilities and major technology centers. The EPCs are internal performance requirements for the management of environmental matters at our facilities. In many cases, they supplement applicable legal requirements by setting minimum standards for environmental management and performance practices that may be more stringent than those required by law. As a result, we work to ensure that a base level of environmental performance is achieved, regardless of where a facility is located or whether a particular jurisdiction has an environmental regulatory program in place.
In 2020, we expanded our tracking of environmental compliance and sustainability performance in manufacturing operations by leveraging the Manufacturing Excellence Indexes (MEI) system. Created by Manufacturing, MEI is an internal GM scoring tool to benchmark GM operations performance against internal facilities. The use of real-time data provides the organization a strategic and common method to measure performance, assess risk and drive continuous improvement.
St. Catharines Propulsion Plant in Ontario was the winner of the 2021 GM Manufacturing Sustainability Recognition Award for their renewable energy project, Gold Certified Wildlife Habitat and many sustainability initiatives.
Managing Substances of Concern Responsibly
GM has established policies, procedures and supplier engagement to monitor banned substances and to ensure global compliance and protect the health of our customers. We receive supplier data monthly that is cross-referenced with known restricted substances lists to ensure compliance with regulations around the world. Our Vehicle Chemical Regulatory Compliance Team evaluates all materials and components/parts to verify that they do not contain substances that are prohibited or restricted through GM internal standards, approval databases, the Global Automotive Declarable Substance List and the International Material Data System.
Employee Environmental Training
Our people are key stakeholders in our environmental stewardship and are critical to our environmental performance. We strive to have the best-trained environmental professionals in the world. Although most environmental training is specific to a facility, country or region, we continually provide strategic training and guidance to our environmental professionals to help them keep pace with evolving environmental issues, changing regulations and best practices. Our training addresses a variety of areas specific to the regulatory requirements for air quality, waste management, water quality and other environment-related topics.
Environmental professionals develop training goals through Workday, the company’s human capital management portal, and seek personal and professional development through internal and external conferences, webinars and lunch and learns. In North America, environmental professionals attend focused sessions over a period of a week where speakers, both internal and external to the company, educate on a variety of topics. Outside North America, environmental professionals take a Global Environmental Certification and Training Program focused on GM’s Guiding Environmental Commitments, our internal EPCs and industry best practices.