By on November 24, 2008

“In the coming weeks we will begin to implement a relatively new cost savings initiative at the Warren Tech Center. This initiative deals with the personal waste baskets that are present in most all of the office work stations and conference rooms. Our plan is to eliminate these waste baskets and transition to a modified method of personal office waste disposal.

The current process that most of you should be following in a office environment is to dispose of your office waste in three separate waste streams.

1, Any recyclable paper and/or materials (transparencies, phone books, catalogs, mail, electronic media, photographs, diskettes, blueprints, audio/video tapes, newspapers, magazines, envelopes, file folders, etc…) should be disposed of in the grey confidential bins.

2. Any food waste or associated containers and wrappers, should be disposed of into the food waste containers strategically located in your office areas.

3. Other items like Kleenex, paper towels, plastic wrappers, and such traditionally go into your office waste basket.

The new process will be to dispose of your office waste in two separate waste streams.

1, Any recyclable paper and/or materials (transparencies, phone books, catalogs, mail, electronic media, photographs, diskettes, blueprints, audio/video tapes, newspapers, magazines, envelopes, file folders, etc…) should be disposed of in the grey confidential bins.

2. Any other waste (food waste or associated containers and wrappers, Kleenex, paper towels, plastic wrappers, and such) should be disposed of into the food waste containers strategically located in your office areas.

When we remove your personal waste basket we will supply you with one of the white cardboard open top recycle boxes if you don’t already have one. You will use this to collect and transport your recyclables and other general trash. We ask that you place each in the proper containers. (food waste or grey recycle bins)

The Janitorial staff will no longer empty trash from your work station or from conference rooms.

We will increase the number of food waste containers to compensate for the increase in volume.

This will result in significant cost savings for General Motors and help us with mandated cleaning staff reductions.
Benefits would include:

Reduced cleaning costs and headcount.

Reduction in the quantity of trash can liners purchased.

Increased emphasis on recycling and reduction of land fill use. (We find a lot of recyclable paper in the waste baskets, wastebasket trash go into our landfills)”

[thanks to you-know-who-you-are]

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50 Comments on “Elimination of Personal Waste Baskets at the [GM] Warren Tech Center...”


  • avatar
    hltguy

    I was wonder if they had personal trash containers on the corporate jets?
    This has gotten so beyond weird……..

  • avatar
    hltguy

    You know you should start looking for another job when they tell you they are taking your trash container away in order to save money.

  • avatar
    derm81

    Anyone know what goes on during the week at the Tech Center? I live a mile or so from it and drive by several times a day and I see the parking lots empty during the week….and these were not holidays. Do they have some sort of Warren TC temp. shutdown plans?

    I do know that they are doing some sort of renovation or construction work on some of the older Saarinen buildings facing Van Dyke. They have massive cranes in place for something.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Brilliant! Next they should lock the restrooms. Surely their cleaning staff spends more time and resources cleaning toilets than anything else. This would be a huge financial save. If their Tech Center employees need to take a dump, they can use the facilities at the gas station across the street.

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    Eliminating minimum wage janitors will make a HUGE difference. Not to mention all those expensive trash bags you don’t have to supply any more.

    Also:
    Ooh! Free boxes! Score!

  • avatar
    Mr. Sparky

    From this trash bin, bankruptcy is looking better and better! When you can’t pay janitors to haul off your crap and you’re a Fortune 500 company, you won’t be one for long. Ask Enron!

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    Playing with the deck chairs having having already struck the iceberg and flooding.

  • avatar
    TheEyeballKid

    More cost saving measures:
    1) Turning off central heating. Everyone will be expected to contribute to heating by doing jumping jacks.
    2) No more chairs. We’re looking into either selling them on ebay or partially dismantling them and using them as seats in our cars. You’re going to be doing jumping jacks all day anyway, so you don’t need a chair.
    3) No more artificial lighting. We will be selling glow-in-the-dark mousepads and keyboards to those of you whose latest paychecks didn’t bounce.
    4) Don’t think you can bring in a light and plug in it – we’re turning off the electricity. If you have a laptop, you will be expected to charge it at home. If you have a desktop, please report to Human Resources for your new assignment as
    5) We are standardizing on Soylent Green for the new cafeteria menu.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Do you mean to tell me that reasonable austerity measures such as these, which have long since been forced on…..er….implemented by GM suppliers many years hence in order to meet GM Purchasing’s relentless search for cheaper and cheaper parts, have not until NOW been deemed as worthwhile for GM to embrace? What other low-hanging fruit cost containment opportunities are there? They must be there by the HUNDREDs.

    I’ve worked for a handful of Tier One suppliers to all the D2.1, Honda and Toyota. We would have monthly, some times weekly, cost reduction team meetings, and items like this waste-stream reduction were among the FIRST implemented, because they are the EASIEST.

    The way this is going, GM won’t get around to making any serious cost reductions until, well, never….they won’t last long enough to get to that point, because they continue to piss away money as if they expect the government to print more any day now. Oh, wait…that’s right, they are firing up the printing presses at the mint as we speak…..

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Uhhhh…..by the way……Farago? Ain’t you s’posed to be on VACATION?

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Farago’s got a bloggin’ jones.

  • avatar
    luscious

    The biggest mistake they are making is believing the trash ends up in the waste baskets of office workers. They are wrong.

    The GREATEST source of TRASH rolls RIGHT off their assembly lines!!!

    Do they make waste bins large enough for the Cobalt? Yes? Well, what about their Impala …will it too fit in a dumpster?

    To hell with it, why not crush them all as they come off the line, and recycle the metal/scrap so the UAW can assemble them again …and again….and again.

    Why, it’s the “Green” thing to do :)

  • avatar
    hltguy

    TheEyeballkid: Funny, too funny, and so true.

  • avatar
    Cicero

    All that paper can be recycled into Aveo door panels.

  • avatar
    ComfortablyNumb

    That was funnier than the SNL skit! Good one, GM!

    …wait, you mean it’s not a joke?

  • avatar

    I managed waste for a DuPont lab (and my grandfather was a junkman who specialized in scrap paper and rags – back in the day before shop towels, Detroit factories used a lot of rags as wipers). Joking aside, there are significant savings as well as improvements in handling the waste streams by not letting employees have their own waste baskets.

    Obviously, there are janitorial savings, but also by not letting employees throw things out at their desks, GM is making sure that things that can be recycled are not ending up in landfills. That reduces disposal fees on actual trash. It also means higher prices for the recyclables. In a facility the size of the Tech Center, that can be a lot of paper, plastic and cardboard. Prices on most commodities are down, but white paper is still worth ~$150 a ton, and corrugated cardboard about $55. The higher percentage of white paper in the recyclables, the more money GM will be paid by their recyclers, who would most likely be doing the sorting, baling and reselling.

    At our lab, paper was one of the smaller waste streams. Waste paint, cans, and test panels were a much larger volume, but with 800 people on site, recycling office paper still at least paid for itself and usually turned a small profit.

    Instead of making fun of GM for trying to save money, people should recognize that it is precisely attention to detail, to rooting out any kind of waste, that is what makes efficient companies profitable.

    It’d probably make fiscal sense to have some printers loaded with paper already printed on one side, for use with drafts and other utility printing. Also, the default setting on most printers should be to print both sides.

    I know it sounds like silly little things, but those little things add up.

  • avatar
    tony-e30

    Something tells me that those cardboard boxes will soon be used for putting the contents of their desks into. Pretty crafty of GM to think this one all the way through.

  • avatar
    Happy_Endings

    If the walk to empty your recycling bin includes the normal detour to your friends cube to discuss sports/cars/that new, hot girl in marketing, less work is going to get done. So while there will be less people employed to clean the office, less work will be done by the employees and the employees are paid a hell of a lot more than the custodians. So really all that’s being saved is the cost of new wastebasket liners.

  • avatar
    Cicero

    How did Wagoner’s turnaround plan get leaked before he presented it to Congress?

  • avatar
    Bytor

    I work at a company (not a car company) that is also circling the drain. In the years since tech crash our stock has lost about 99.8% of its value. We are at penny stock status again (we previous did a reverse split to get out of it).

    In the last year our CEO got a 15%+ raise to over 10 Million dollars. Meanwhile we have laid off 70% of the staff and outsourced another 15%. The company cut all regular employee pensions without consultation. We have had essentially years of salary freeze during at least 15 rounds of cuts.

    We also had austerity measures like garbage pickup reduced to once/week and for obvious reasons, no food items in our personal trash. Removal of coffee whitener from the coffee area etc…

    The problem with this kind of thing in both cases (my workplace and car companies) is while the average worker is being nickle and dimed to ridiculous levels the executives continue to give themselves bonuses, raises and perks while we are going broke. This goes beyond generating low morale to generating active resentment from the average worker toward our executive management.

    IMO no company can expect to survive with this kind of relationship between staff and leadership. Calling this leadership is something of a joke. Leaders, lead by example. IMO the current leadership has to go at the Detroit three if there is to be any chance for survival.

  • avatar
    dean

    Cicero: How did Wagoner’s turnaround plan get leaked before he presented it to Congress?

    Priceless!

    Ronnie Schreiber: You are quite correct that these are reasonable steps. However, read Mark MacInnis’ post for a great counter.

  • avatar
    nonce

    Where are they going to file their shareholder reports now?

  • avatar
    chinar

    Mr Farago

    I used to enjoy reading your comments because it gave a different perspective than the MSM

    But lately you seem to have become obsessed with criticizing GM. It frankly is getting to be very irritating and irresponsible

    I wish GM survives through these troubled times and prospers and you have to eat your words.

  • avatar
    VerbalKint

    I had really terrible sleep problems for a while. I’d go into work at 4am at the Milford Proving Grounds. There was no one in the building yet there were 200+ lights on. I wrote their “good ideas” site asking that they turn the lights off when no one was around. Silly me…

    What’s next?: Shut down the bathrooms and make everyone dump at Micky D’s or Quiznos??

    –VK

  • avatar

    chinar, Farago will have no words to eat. If you actually paid attention to the site and read the posts, you will find that the writing staff, and many of the commenters, on TTAC do not bear GM ill will nor do any of us actually want to see the domestic automakers fall. It would mean millions of jobs lost and a disruption to the core of the remaining US manufacturing base.

    RF has some good lines into new developments and it he has carved out a specific niche for this site – one of the main elements of which is a real focus on the business practices of the domestics. The domestic automakers are in this situation because of choices they have made which were bad business decisions made by bad businessmen. It is important that somebody is out there keeping an eye on them and pointing out their shortcomings, otherwise there would be no reason to improve.

  • avatar
    windswords

    “I know it sounds like silly little things, but those little things add up.”

    Only when it’s Toyondissandai. Then it’s crafty Asian ingenuity. When it’s GM or Ford it’s just grist for jokes. Obviously this is brought on by the horrible market and I know a lot it’s their own doing. But it’s this kind of mindeset that is needed (well new leadership woun’t hurt either). Now if they can used the same mindset on their factory efficiency and yes, throughout the executive ranks (especially with new leadership) they can save a lot of money. If only our elected officials would have the same mindset.

  • avatar
    NickR

    My wife’s former employer issued a missive banning Kentucky Fried Chicken because the Director hated the smell. So, I guess companies issues all kinds of missives.

    Anyway, reducing the stream to landfills is a laudible goal and if it saves a few bucks for GM, all the better.

  • avatar
    chinar

    kazoomaloo, i do pay attention to the site. I have followed it for quite some time now. and as I already mentioned i used to really like Mr Farago’s posts.

    but posting topics like this one is very childish as far as i am concerned.

    Also, I do not appreciate the condescension in your comment – “If you actually paid attention to the site and read the posts…”

  • avatar
    4speed

    I received a call from a friend, in the business, who says that I’ve GOT to run over here and read about the personal trash container news. Fine. I’ve been resisting the temptation to read all the news that’s here for fear of a mental meltdown but what the heck.
    Hmmm. My first reaction is that this a put-on. Bit of thought and…seems about right. Worked in and around major firms, auto related and not, for a lot of years.
    When you need to “show” that you are trying to cut costs and be more efficient (and you don’t want to do it yourself) get an underling to pare down costs. Looks good and you (that would be the management that shouldn’t exist anyway!) can point out the cost savings measures you have taken.
    Query. How much time, effort, meeting time and money did it take to evaulate, analyze, implement, and distribute this startling bit of efficiency? As much, perhaps, as the program will save?
    Query. Could someone take an equivalent amount of time and ponder why GM surrendered their base demographics to overseas manufacturers?

    This is free. Have each employee bring in their own trash bag and clean up their space themselves!
    Get rid of those evil cleaning people altogether.

    Enough. t

  • avatar
    ttilley

    Instead of making fun of GM for trying to save money, people should recognize that it is precisely attention to detail, to rooting out any kind of waste, that is what makes efficient companies profitable.

    So it’s an efficiency measure to force employees to walk out of their cubicles over to a centrally-located bin if they have to blow their nose?

    Isn’t this centrally located nose-blowing-bin likely to spread disease?

    N.B.: I approve of recycling, and live in a county with a 75% solid waste recycling mandate, which I support. This, on the other hand, seems petty.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Next up, bring your own toilet paper to work day.

  • avatar
    schadenfred

    Next is the “If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down” policy. Then the only number 1, no going number 2 at work (a probably apocryphal Commerce or Treasury dept policy that made the rounds in the internets a few years ago).

  • avatar
    P1h3r1e3d13

    Waste streams aside, they are replacing trash cans with cardboard boxes.
    Couldn’t the employees just empty the existing containers into the recycling? It costs nothing to start calling trash cans “recycle bins.”

    Instead, employees get a less durable and less attractive container and the General’s buying boxes and disposing of trash cans.
    (Craigslist Detroit:”CHEEP!! 842,763 office trash canz!!”).

    Way to be efficient!

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    I finally broke down and bought “on a clear day you can see General Motors” off amazon.com for a penny. $3.99 for shipping, though. I am not surprised at this editorial at all. The mold was cast decades ago with the insanity. How DeLorean stayed that long was beyond comprehension.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    @windswords,

    It’s ‘Asian ingenuity’ (or sound business that some of us ‘muricans have always liked to practice) when you do it without a pistol in your mouth. Hammer back. Safety off.

    When you have dozens (hundreds) of folks in your org who should have implemented baby steps like this years ago, you present a screaming easy target for derision.

    Love it or hate it, history is being written as we speak. Twenty or thirty years from now, students will seek out the honest informed opinions found places like this. Because the MSM always paints it way glossier than it really is.

    The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. The day the domestics admit they have institutional problems that most of us have seen clearly for over 30 years, I’ll start believing.

  • avatar

    You are quite correct that these are reasonable steps. However, read Mark MacInnis’ post for a great counter.

    I don’t disagree with him.

    One problem with waste is that most folks just don’t see it. Normal procedures are not thought of as waste. Think about the schools or office buildings that have all the lights on one floor on a single circuit. The janitor is cleaning just one room at a time, but all the lights are on.

    Waste is like an iceberg, you can’t see the full extent. The money that goes into something that’s wasted can’t be invested in other things.

    Paper, for example. When paper is wasted, let’s say by printing unnecessary hard copy drafts, it’s not just the disposal/recycling costs and the cost of replacing that paper. It’s also the capital investment in the office supply room where the paper is stored, the wages of the loading dock personnel who received it, the time of the person in purchasing who ordered it, etc.

    When I disposed of a pallet of off-spec paint, the $600/barrel disposal fee was a small fraction of the total cost of the waste.

  • avatar

    Because the MSM always paints it way glossier than it really is.

    Nah, they tilt glossy or bleak depending on their bias on that subject.

    People are the same. If I said that nobody buys Apple computers people would say that I’m crazy, but Macs only have about 3% of the market for personal computers. If I say that nobody buys American cars, people will nod sagely, ignoring their 55% market share and that GM outsold Toyota last month.

  • avatar

    The day the domestics admit they have institutional problems that most of us have seen clearly for over 30 years, I’ll start believing.

    I believe I first heard the phrase, “GM isn’t a car company, it’s a health and retirement plan that happens to sell cars” from a GM marketing guy, circa 2002. I’m sure that middle managers of the Detroit 3, or their counterparts at tier 1 vendors, can tell stories that make anything on TTAC look like playground stuff.

    I think that’s why Rep. McCotter was so indignant in that video. Folks around Detroit know the problems of the domestic industry better than most. We don’t need to be lectured about restructuring, we could give those lectures.

  • avatar
    ttilley

    I wish GM survives through these troubled times and prospers and you have to eat your words.

    I agree with you. I also have a suspicion RF wouldn’t mind having to eat his Death Watch Words.

    Being “penny wise, pound foolish”, or plucking slivers out of your neighbors eye while ignoring beams in your own eye…whatever metaphor you prefer…is not a reasonable path to survival. It’s a panic, induced when one is required to come up with something when one really has nothing. It deserves ridicule from those of us whose tax money, and economic health, is potentially on the line, and who don’t have the practical option of doing other than ridiculing.

    It may be that a reasonable business plan, publicly presented, would suggest that GM’s only realistic option is C11. RF has argued that for quite some time, I’ve reluctantly come around to that view over the last few months. It may be that GM, despite negative shareholder equity in excess of $50B, has other options with which Congress might assist – if so they should present them, and execute them, sooner rather than later. In fact, they should have long since executed them without the need to involve Congress.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Maybe they could mandate only one square of toilet paper to be used at one sitting. Just stick your finger through the middle and them wipe it off.

    Rabid Rick could demonstrate this for the troops.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Ronnie,

    By ‘glossier’ I meant that there was a lack of depth. Good or bad. Biased however it falls.

    As to the nobody buys ‘domestics’ thing. Pull out the fleet and the government sales. I won’t even throw in folks that keep one as a company beater to put on a show.

    20 years of declining market share would seem to present a convincing set of data points.

  • avatar

    Maybe they could mandate only one square of toilet paper to be used at one sitting. Just stick your finger through the middle and them wipe it off.

    I believe the name for that is a sh1t ticket.

  • avatar

    Well, even more reason for the Chinese to finally buy GM. At our building in Beijing, we don’t recycle (which was a major culture shock to this German and his Japanese wife ..) The recycling is done for us: Hordes of people attack the garbage in the basement, and sort it into umpteen categories.

    With this method, I bet electronic media, photographs, diskettes, blueprints, audio/video tapes and the like would get extra careful treatment.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    Bertel Schmitt :
    November 25th, 2008 at 1:29 am

    Well, even more reason for the Chinese to finally buy GM. At our building in Beijing, we don’t recycle (which was a major culture shock to this German and his Japanese wife ..) The recycling is done for us: Hordes of people attack the garbage in the basement, and sort it into umpteen categories.

    With this method, I bet electronic media, photographs, diskettes, blueprints, audio/video tapes and the like would get extra careful treatment.

    Some chinese will pick through abandoned or demolished building for copper wire because they can make a decent amount of money selling the copper. People would also ask me for any cans or plastic bottles I had whenever I went somewhere with a lot of tourists. My dad called it “efficient” that everything got used, because people were so poor.

  • avatar
    factotum

    I can’t believe they still use diskettes at a “tech” center. I’m sure there must be a good reason, though.

  • avatar
    windswords

    porschespeed:

    “It’s ‘Asian ingenuity’ (or sound business that some of us ‘muricans have always liked to practice) when you do it without a pistol in your mouth. Hammer back. Safety off.”

    If you had worked for a foreign based manufacturer as I have you would know that ideas for cost savings are not always generated by the workers. Many of them come down as edicts through management, just as many cost saving ideas come from the line workers in domestic makers. Your perception is colored by the media covereage.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Windswords,

    I didn’t say anything about who originated the ideas. Some things, like waste waste stream optimization (recycling) are generally from higher up the totem pole (management). Management has to make it happen. Some ideas will come from rank and file, but they seldom are in a position to execute any grand plans.

    My perceptions are those of someone who went from operations and worked up to a step below VP in a large corporation (though not automotive). I have friends who do still work in large corporations. Some of them automotive. That’s where I get my coloring.

    Big companies are big companies, industry is all but irrelevant. The corporate culture is either efficient or not. GM has plenty of folks in the management org chart who should have had the company figuring out how to not to waste money on electricity, waste, buildouts, etc. Much as I dislke WalMart, they have been on the efficiency path for many years.

  • avatar
    bjcpdx

    This “cost savings initiative” strikes me as being not so much about efficiency, as about some mid-level manager coming up with an idea just to be seen to be doing something to earn his keep and preserve his job.

    Anyone who has worked in the corporate world knows what I’m talking about.

  • avatar

    Isn’t this centrally located nose-blowing-bin likely to spread disease?

    No, you have to think UAW. Germs bank!

    John

  • avatar

    20 years of declining market share would seem to present a convincing set of data points.

    You can say the same about Apple. According to Gartner their share of the personal computer market has dropped from 15% in 1980 to less than 3% today. You can also find Apple fanboys who explain why that doesn’t matter, that with size of the overall market expanding their sales went up.

    The cult of Jobs is dedicated to Apple regardless.

    FWIW, I did IT support at a site that had about 400 Macs and 400 Wintel boxes(later transitioning to PCs entirely), I’ve alway liked Apple products and think that their operating systems have always been more user friendly and intuitive than the competition. I have nothing against Apple, I just think a lot of consumers operate on “conventional wisdom” that’s not very wise and make excuses for companies they like that they’d never make for Detroit.


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