Rather than taking down outdoor billboard ads and sending them to landfills, Chevrolet has started upcycling them into functional bags. Outdoor vinyl ads from billboards, transit shelters, and bus stations are combined with recycled seat belts and bicycle inner tubes to create trendy messenger bags, laptop sleeves, and totes.
The ingenious idea is a result of one of the largest media buys in Chevrolet Canada’s history, which saw dozens of outdoor advertisements go up as part of the Cruze campaign launch in 2010. Turning the old advertisements into useful items is part of Chevy’s green initiative “Driving Our World Forward.” The bags are highly durable and functional and are made by Totem Bags in Toronto.
Over 600,000 tons of outdoor billboards are produced each year in the United States alone. The lifespan of a billboard is usually on a few months. Turning this vinyl into bags and other useful products diverts waste from landfills and also continues the messaging for the brands in the advertisements, in this case, Chevy Cruze.
Part of GM’s commitment to the environment is to reduce waste. The one bag of trash that you probably put out each week is more waste taken to the landfill than many of GM’s facilities combined. Half of GM’s manufacturing facilities are landfill-free and, on average, 97 percent of the waste generated from everyday manufacturing operations at these plants is recycled or reused and the remaining 3 percent is converted to energy.
That is not to say that there is not waste, such as scrap metal, paint sludge, or shipping materials, generated. It is unrealistic to think that a car manufacturer as large as GM doesn’t create any waste at all. However, the vast majority of that waste is repurposed so that it doesn’t end up in the landfill. On example of this is the 227 miles of oil boom from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that was converted into air deflectors for the Chevrolet Volt.
Additionally, GM facilities around the globe house 30 megawatts of solar power with plans to double that over the next few years. That is enough energy to power nearly 10,000 homes in the U.S. for a year. Also, GM recently announced a project called Green Zones that is aimed at putting solar canopies on the grounds of GM dealerships to allow owners of electric vehicles, such as the Chevy Volt, a place to charge their vehicles.
When it comes to being green, GM and Chevy are committed to creating energy efficiency, waste reduction, resource preservation, and creating environmentally-friendly vehicles. When you buy a GM, Chevy, or Cadillac, you can be confident that you are supporting a company that believes in protecting the earth.