Symbolically, today’s GM announcement says that GM is going to be part of the solution to fix what is wrong with the “extractive economy”, and to use the resources at hand. Not only is the Chevy Volt is the first “long range, fully electric car” (although admittedly, it does use gas to recharge the battery after 25-50 miles).
In addition, 62 of GM’s 76 plants are “zero waste”, sending zero waste to landfills. And now, GM is announcing that the Chevy Volt will be made with plastic parts that were recycled from oil soaked booms that were used to clean up the BP oil spill. In the process of recycling the plastic, 100,000 lbs of waste was kept out of the landfill or from being incinerated in waste to energy facilities. The parts, which deflect air around the vehicle’s radiator, are comprised of 25 percent boom material and 25 percent recycled tires from GM’s Milford Proving Ground vehicle test facility. The remaining is a mixture of post-consumer recycled plastics and other polymers.
While some blogs and op-eds have taken swipes at Motor City for continued sales of light trucks and SUVs, GM has exhibited their ability to implement alternatives that wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago. Even if some will downplay it as a baby step, it’s a step in the right direction.