The recycling campaign was inspired by Veronika Scott, an Empowerment Plan leader at the College for Creative Studies. Scott had started a project to design clothing for the houseless using recyclable materials. While working on a local shoot for a Planet Green cable TV production, she met John Bradburn, GM's manager of waste-reduction efforts. Bradburn told her about Sonozorb, which is a highly oil-absorbent insulating material used to fit into car door cavities and vehicle compartments for sound absorption. GM had been reusing Sonozorb at its plants and the material was also used to clean up the Gulf oil spill in 2010, some of which was even recycled into production Chevrolet Volt vehicles.
It made sense for Scott to request donation of the material from GM, and the company delivered 2,000 yards of the materials. That was enough to make about 400 coats from extra Sonozorb chunks that came from the production of Chevy Malibu and Buick Verano sedans. Auto supplier GDC works on the project, too, reprocessing leftover material into quilt-like fabric for the coats that also transform into sleeping bags.
Scott employs about seven formerly homeless women who are paid to craft about 150 coats a month. The coats are sent to homeless outreach groups in Detroit and other destinations, including Ohio, New York, and San Francisco.
The donations tie into GM's commitment to reduce waste. Last year, the company recycled or reused 2.5 million metric tons at its facilities worldwide. It's also a good way to service the local community. "We're reaching out and helping others," Bradburn told the Detroit News.
DETROIT – Leftover sound absorbing material from production of Chevrolet Malibu and Buick Verano sedans is being used by the homeless to create their own self-heated, waterproof coats that transform into sleeping bags.
The weather protection gear is the vision of Veronika Scott, a Detroit humanitarian whose Empowerment Plan is working with General Motors for the source material.
"Among other challenges – from design to project funding – the insulation is the largest expense in the coats' production," said Scott. "With GM's help and recommendations, I was able to think about materials in a different way and incorporate a sustainable, durable and practical product from GDC, Inc. that benefits struggling community members."
Sonozorb™, the insulating material, is manufactured in different shapes to fit within door cavities and vehicle compartments for sound absorption. Automotive supplier GDC makes the coat insulation material exclusively from the leftover scrap, reprocessing it for reuse.
GM donated 2,000 yards of material, enough to make 400 coats.
In addition to donating it to the coat project, GM has reused the highly oil absorbent material in its manufacturing plants. It was also used in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup. GM spearheaded a project to recover used oil-soaked booms, converting them into a production year's worth of Chevrolet Volts. The effort prevented 212,500 pounds of waste from entering U.S. landfills.
GM's cross-industry collaboration is again serving the community.
"Helping incorporate sustainability into Veronika's entrepreneurial project reflects GM's mission to creatively reduce waste and invest in the community," said John Bradburn, GM's manager of waste-reduction efforts. "From previous projects, we knew how this material could be reused and approached Veronika and GDC, who quickly agreed to participate."
Scott initially designed the coats to fulfill a classroom requirement while a junior at Detroit's College for Creative Studies. Since December 2010, she has employed eight homeless women full time, making 150 coats each month. The coats have been available since February 2011 and are distributed to homeless outreach organizations in Detroit and across the nation. Scott also helps her employees find housing and achieve financial independence.
This coat-making activity is part of GM's commitment to waste reduction, recycling and reuse. It has 102 landfill-free facilities globally that recycle, reuse or convert to energy all waste from daily operations – more than any other automaker. Last year, it recycled or reused 2.5 million metric tons at its facilities worldwide. That is equivalent to more than 38 million trash bags.
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM's brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.