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GM Burns RenCen's Trash to Power its Factory, Calls it "Green"

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Photo by Chris and Michelle Gerard

GM's bailout may have cost us taxpayers $10B, but don't worry—the company is going to drown out all your negativity towards them with some positive press, like this piece published yesterday in the Detroit News.
The article talks admiringly of GM's "Landfill Free" initiative, which is now being enacted at the Renaissance Center. Under GM's program, the huge amount of trash produced every day at the RenCen is now either recycled or "converted to energy." It's touted as an environmentally friendly move by the new, more responsible GM. It's not so simple. While the increased recycling is nice, the 51% of the RenCen's garbage that's "converted to energy" is just as much connected to the green in GM's bank account than any environmental concern.

Three things the article isn't telling us:

1. "Convert to Energy" = Burn: Rather than a landfill, the RenCen's trash is now heading to the Detroit Renewable Energy LLC, the city's giant cigarette in the sky, or what the Sierra Club calls the world's largest trash incinerator. Burning trash generates steam, electricity, and terribly stinky clouds that choke neighborhoods from Midtown to Allen Park. It has previously been cited for several environmental violations, and is accused of raising asthma rates among Detroit children.

2. Burning Trash Saves GM Money: GM isn't just a good steward trying to show the RenCen's tenants the value in burning trash—it has a big stake in ensuring the incinerator meets its daily trash quotas. Detroit Renewable Energy and GM announced a partnership in November that sends steam directly from the incinerator to GM's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center, covering 58% of its energy needs. That saves GM about $2M annually, which is a good incentive to redirect the RenCen's trash (2M pounds/year) into the incinerator's fires.

3. We're all "Going Green": If the City of Detroit picks up your garbage, give yourself a pat on the back—you're probably converting that garbage to energy! Nearly all of the city's trash heads straight to the incinerator. GM is simply sending its trash where yours has been going since the early 90s—into the atmosphere.

Renaissance Center

100 Renaissance Center, , MI 48243 Visit Website