DETROIT (July 14, 1 p.m. ET) — Honda of America Manufacturing Inc. has almost entirely stopped sending factory waste to landfills. Now it will invite its suppliers to follow suit.
Honda is launching a program this year to help North American suppliers kick the dump habit, says Karen Heyob, associate chief engineer and manager of the automaker's zero-landfill program.
“Landfilling is almost always the cheaper alternative,” Heyob said. “We could save money if we just sent everything to a landfill. But we don't want to be that kind of company. Landfills are not the solution for waste management.”
Honda, which launched its zero-landfill efforts in 2001 at its just-opened auto plant in Lincoln, Ala., said this morning that 10 of its 14 U.S., Canadian and Mexican factories have now achieved zero-landfill status.
“When we say zero landfill, we mean absolute zero” for those factories that reach that level, said Honda spokesman Ed Miller. “Not 2 percent or 1 percent, but zero waste is going to landfills now.”
The company has spent the past decade looking for alternative uses for waste materials, ranging from oily rags and packaging materials to cafeteria garbage and paint sludge. As a result, Honda this year will generate about 2 pounds of landfill waste per vehicle produced in North America, down from 63 pounds in 2001, Heyob says.
According to Honda, the company's Timmonsville, S.C., powersports plant, which produces all-terrain vehicles, recycles hard plastic foam, sheet plastic foam and other recyclable plastics from incoming parts shipments, diverting more than 130 tons of plastic from landfills each year.
The company's Marysville and East Liberty, Ohio, plants also recently began washing and reusing thousands of plastic caps each day that are used to protect parts during shipping.
Heyob said Honda's new supplier sustainability program will encourage parts and material companies to adopt similar zero-landfill goals.
“We believe there's a lot of opportunity in doing this to help suppliers manage their costs better,” she said.
Despite the lower expense of hauling waste to a landfill, she said that Honda's initiatives have resulted in better plant efficiencies and less waste.
In one case, employees at Honda's assembly plant in Marysville, Ohio, found a way to extract more sealer out of its storage barrels. The plant had been disposing of 7 to 8 percent of every barrel of sealer because it couldn't be pumped out. Plant associates now cut into the barrel to get to the rest of it.
Miller said that Honda has no plans to brag about the green initiative in its vehicle advertising.