The following article highlights the remarkable story of Subaru’s Indiana assembly plant, and the plant’s quest to become the first zero landfill factory on American soil. This feat was not conquered overnight, this took years of hard work and determination to accomplish.
Beginning in the year 2000, driven by Japanese Kaizen Philosophy, Subaru’s leadership decided it was time to improve waste consumption rates in their manufacturing and assembly efforts (long before competitors). With the help of environmental consultants and regional waste management companies, Subaru has reduced waste generated at their Indiana facility by more than half (60%) since the year 2000. This is accomplished in many ways, for example; waste created by dashboards, carpet and other non-hazardous materials (-5% of Subaru’s waste) are incinerated by Covanta to create energy, the ashes are then used in creating material to help resurface roads.
Subaru employs over 5,000 employees at their 3.5 million square foot facility in Lafayette, Indiana – Employees the company incentivizes (with cash other rewards) to come forward with ideas and suggestions for sustainability efforts at the plant, as well as suggestions on vehicle quality and safety. Of the 375,000 cars assembled in Lafayette each year, only 240 pounds of waste is created by each car assembled. In 2016 alone, Subaru recycled nearly 94 million pounds of material, 80 million of which was metal.
This was initially a five year goal for Subaru, but they ended up growing the program swiftly and became the first zero-landfill auto plant in the U.S. in just two years. Subaru hasn’t sent anything to the landfill since May of 2004 from its 3.5 million square foot assembly plant that employs over 5k people – Pretty remarkable accomplishment.
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