GM adopts new recycling plan for Renaissance Center image

The automaker said the six-tower, 5.5-million-square-foot Renaissance Center is no longer sending any waste to the dump.

Instead, the high-rise’s occupants — including the 73-floor Marriott hotel and all of the companies and retailers that rent space in the property — are recycling, reusing and refurbishing all the waste they generate, or sending it to a waste-to-energy converter.

The RenCen, as it’s known to the 12,000 office workers and 3,000 daily visitors who walk through its doors, is the 110th GM property to go landfill-free. Most are manufacturing plants, where it is easier to eliminate waste because they have predictable processes and they reduce costs by selling waste materials.

Everyone who uses the landmark structure will need to follow posted guidelines for recycling and reusing. As a result the equivalent of about 200,000 trash bags per year won’t be rotting in landfills. Even GM CEO Dan Akerson will be expected to discard paper and bottles into the right bins.

“From our CEO all the way across the organization, every single person plays a role in this project,” said John Bradburn, GM’s waste reduction manager.

Purging waste from the RenCen bedeviled GM’s environmental sustainability officials for a time. For example, the hotel needed to find a way to address mattresses. The automaker collaborated with 11 other RenCen corporate tenants — including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan — as well as 27 retailers and 20 restaurants.