Sustainability

Trash to treasure: GM vehicles are made from products originally destined for a landfill

General Motors is putting post-consumer waste to good use.

Photo by Getty Images/Koron

When you think of recycling, you inevitably think of the beer can or bottle that you've thrown in the bin in your garage, or the newspaper or magazine that sits in a stack waiting to be added to that bin on garbage day. There usually isn't much thought given to what happens to the materials once the garbage truck pulls away from your curbside.

Even though you might not be putting much thought into it, others are. This includes finding new and innovative approaches to using the recycled materials in products that are going to market.

General Motors Spring Hill Plant GM's Spring Hill plant will be run on solar power by 2022. Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors, who keeps sustainable practices in focus as part of an ongoing company-wide initiative, is utilizing recycled materials in their vehicles. This in and of itself isn't particularly innovative. Half a decade ago, the use or soy in the seats and tomato skins in the trunk was a common talking point for Ford during vehicle launches.

GM has taken steps over the years to reduce waste. At their Bowling Green assembly plant, the paint-shop system is using limestone to capture overspray, a practice that eliminates more than 400 tons per year of paint sludge waste. The company's design team donates scraps of leather, vinyl, and synthetic suede to the College for Creative Studies in Detroit so that they may be used by fashion students. Corvette's leather leftovers go to Pingree, a Detroit business that employs veterans with meaningful work, where workers hand craft the leather into custom Corvette-branded accessories.

The GM Global Design Center in Warren, Michigan has its design team collect and clean clay that is left over from creating models, using metal detecting wands to remove any metal pins. In just one hour, six team members can completely strip one midsize vehicle model of salvageable clay. This clay recycling saved Mother Earth some strain and GM's pocket book about $1 million over a three-year period.

General Motors recycled car breakdown Photo courtesy of General Motors

GM is part of the Materials Marketplace, an initiative of the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development, that works to identify ways to reuse or exchange undervalued materials through an online database and establish circular supply chains. This is designed to lengthen product life cycles and lower the environmental impact of many stages of the manufacturing and design process.

The automaker is also putting recycled materials into its vehicles. Post-consumer nylon fiber has been used for window support brackets resulting in 3 million pounds of plastic being recycled. Recycled PC/PBT plastic has been made into license plate brackets while PC/ABS plastic has been crafted into radio brackets resulting in 375,000 pounds of plastic diverted from landfills.

According to Beverage Marketing Corp., a single-serve PET bottle weighs approximately 9.25 grams down 52 percent from the early 2000s. GM has recycled 100 million water bottles and used them to make wheelhouse liners. Other uses of recycled materials include 200,000 pounds of plastic diverted from landfills to make cowl vent grills, 5,000 tires taken out of the refuse pile to be used to make ultra capacitor barrier shields.

General Motors Spring Hill Assembly Plant Photo courtesy of General Motors

GM continues to work on sustainability with its plants and suppliers. It has recently won awards for its initiatives and is set to hit another milestone in 2022 when the Spring Hill plant will switch over to solely solar power.

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The Rolls-Royce Dusk in Tokyo collection features unique accents.

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Nearly every aesthetic aspect of a Rolls-Royce can be customized. From traditional leather choices to intricate inlays, vapor blasted titanium, and million-stitch embroidery, the options for owners from the Bespoke side of the brand are nearly endless.

"The Bespoke Collective scaled new heights of greatness in 2020 – that they did so against the backdrop of numerous, unprecedented constraints and challenges makes their accomplishments even more impressive," said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. "Never before have we seen such levels of Bespoke detailing in each commission, demonstrating that Rolls-Royce clients around the world have sought solace in creativity – commissioning introspective items of luxury that will stand the test of time to become lasting and poignant legacies."

Here, AutomotiveMap takes a closer look at some of the most intricate designs that the luxury automaker crafted in 2020. Click here to see their hits list from 2019.

Dusk in Tokyo

Rolls-Royce Dusk in Tokyo interior

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The 'Dusk in Tokyo Collection' is comprised of a Phantom, Wraith, Dawn, and Cullinan that celebrate the life and culture of Japan's capital city. Each model features a z complex, multi-faceted white paint, eponymously named 'Dusk in Tokyo', that is reminiscent of high-rise glass and concrete buildings bathed in the warm light of early dusk. The paint contains aluminum and mica flakes that create subtle tones in low light.

The Black Leather interior, punctuated by Rose Gold Bespoke Audio grilles and on Phantom, the fascia's Rose Gold clock case, is meant as a contrast, just as the long shadows of the city's call buildings cast on the ground below them.

At the cars' face is the Spirit of Ecstasy, presented in Rose Gold for the first time in Japan, representing the setting of the sun.

The Steed Phantom Extended

Rolls-Royce Phantom Steed Extended

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

This horse-themed Phantom features complex bespoke embroidery that embellishes the interior rear doors. The design was developed from a sketch presented to the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Design Collective, by a Chinese client with a very clear vision.

Neon Nights Color Trilogy

Rolls-Royce Neon Nights Trilogy

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The new Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective collection featured a limited run of four of each color Dawn, Wraith, and Cullinan models. Each is colored with a hue inspired by the natural world. Read more about these models here.

Phantom 'Iridescent Opulence'

Rolls Royce Iridescent Opulemnce

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

This Phantom includes artwork that originally debuted as a concept in 2017. It was created in partnership with a Swiss materials specialist with the result being a gallery that houses over 3,000 sustainably sourced iridescent tail feathers. These feathers have been hand-sewn in to the open pore fabric. A Mother of Pearl casing surrounds the clock at the heart of the Gallery while bespoke embroidery at the rear waterfall and silver inlays on the picnic tables complete the design.

Wraith 'Inspired by Earth'

Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by Earth

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Earth gave the design team the inspiration for this solar system-themed Wraith. The one-of-a-kind model was showcased earlier this year here on AutomotiveMap.

Wraith Kryptos Collection

Rolls-Royce Wraith Kryptos Collection Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Wraith Kryptos Collection comes complete with its own cipher that is concealed in the cars' bespoke detailing. Just 50 models were commissioned as part of the series. AutomotiveMap took a closer look at the vehicles here earlier this year.

The Mahlangu Phantom

Rolls-Royce The Mahlangu Phantom

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

A South African client commissioned the bespoke model to display a highly personal work of art from globally celebrated South African artist, Dr Esther Mahlangu. Dr Mahlangu, a national icon in Africa from the Ndebele region, was the first artist to create an artwork in this way and the motor car was named 'The Mahlangu Phantom' in her honor. Positioned front and centre in the Phantom's interior, the one-of-a-kind commission is a striking display.

Cullinan Spirt of Russia Collection

Rolls-Royce Cullinan Spirit of Russia

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Four Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUVs were created and dedicated to Russian mountains: Elbrus, Krasnaya Polyana, Golden Mountains, and Klyuchevskaya Sopka. The exteriors of the models are painted Iced Black Diamond, Iced Gunmetal Steel, Midnight Sapphire Blue and Premiere Silver - colors chosen because they are reminiscent of the frosty peaks. Inside each, a map of Russia is on the starlight headliner while mountain peaks are embroidered on the headrests. The engraved sill plates of each car bear an inscription naming the mountain region that inspired its design, as well as the height of the highest peak in each region.

Dawn Silver Bullet Collection

Rolls-Royce Dawn Silver Bullet Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Dawn Silver Bullet Collection features an ultra-metallic paint job and unique aero cowling. Click here to read more about the car.

Sportive Collection

Rolls-Royce Sportive Collection

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

A Collection of two Black Badge Dawns and nine Black Badge Wraiths were commissioned for the United Arab Emirates. The group features bold color combinations and technical fibers that intertwine to create vibrancy. Each has a hand-painted coastline. They also features woven-leather door panniers and engraved bespoke audio frets.

Arctic White and Hotspur Red Phantom

Rolls-Royce Hotspur Phantom

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

An Arctic White exterior paint job with a double pinstripe in Hotspur Red is just the beginning of this model. The red continues inside where the lambswool floor mats, privacy curtains, and luggage compartment are completed in the color. The 'Lakeshore Aurora' Gallery is designed and created by the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective.

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"The Lady and The Dale" shows off the history of a three-wheeled car and an investment scheme gone awry.

Photo courtesy of HBO

Liz Carmichael claimed to be a lot of things. She said she was the widow of a NASA engineer, a farmer's daughter, and a mother of five. In reality, she was none of those things. The truth was a little less straightforward.

Carmichael was born in the late 1930s as Jerry Dean Michael, a male. By 1961 she would be wanted by police for alleged involvement in a counterfeiting operation. Carmichael fathered five children with Vivian Barrett Michael, who she would introduce as her secretary rather than spouse or partner. These exploits were just the beginning.

The Lady and the Day "The Lady and The Dale" will debut on January 31 on HBO.Photo courtesy of HBO

The Lady and the Dale

A new, four-part documentary series from Emmy-winning producers Mark and Jay Duplass ("Room 104") follows the story of Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael, the founder of Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation. During the fuel crisis of the 1970s, Carmichael was living as a woman, taking the world by storm with the promotion of a fuel-efficient three-wheeled car named The Dale.

The Dale was designed and built by Dale Clifft. Before meeting Carmichael, Clifft had built the original vehicle from aluminum tubing and covered it in naugahyde. Carmichael came along and served as the vehicle's hype woman, using her promotional zeal to build up the vehicle's design and engineering and gaining investors putting more than 100 employees on the payroll.

Soon, the media took notice and began digging into The Dale and Carmichael. What resulted next is the story that is captured on film.

"The Lady and The Dale" mixes animation, archival footage, and interviews with Liz's family members and gender scholars, including Susan Stryker.

The series debuts with two back-to-back episodes on Sunday, January 31, at 9:00 p.m. ET with new subsequent Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET. The Lady and The Dale will premiere on HBO and be available to stream on HBO Max. Watch the trailer below.

The Lady and the Dale: Official Trailer | HBO www.youtube.com

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