DETROIT - General Motors is introducing an oil and wastewater recycling program for North America that is expected to spread across the company next year.
Don Smolenski, a program manager for GM's worldwide facilities group, said the program will recycle more than 15 million gallons of used oil and oily wastewater in its first year. From that, GM expects to reclaim about five million gallons of oil.
Since the waste normally would be burned as industrial fuel, the effort would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 55,000 tons a year.
The program will start at four GM Powertrain facilities, in Toledo, Ohio; and Warren, Flint and Ypsilanti, Mich. It then is expected to spread throughout North America. The 15 million gallons will come from the four initial powertrain plants and others that will be added throughout the year.
Initially, most of the recycling will be done off-site. GM will work with Safety-Kleen of East Chi-cago, Ind., to deliver hydraulic fluids, gear oils and lubricants through re-refining, a process in which additives and impurities are removed from the oil.
General Oil of Redford, Mich. will provide cutting and grinding fluids through reclaiming, a less severe process that removes some of the impurities but not all of them.
GM may ask other suppliers to provide recycling services, especially at plant sites. As time goes on, trailer recycling and the use of special machines that remove fine particles and water from the oil will be used more at the plants.
Smolenski said the initial cost of the program will be minimal. For example, the machines that clean oil, called 'roll-around machines,' can be purchased for about $10,000 each. The cost to buy these machines could be recovered in a couple of months, Smolenski said.
He said GM will experience a net cost savings from this venture but is not sure at this point how much it will save. Savings should result, Smolenski said, because the company will purchase recycled fluids instead of virgin fluids, and a decrease in machine repair costs is expected. He said GM also will save when oil can be cleaned on-site using special machines.