GM Recycling Program Giving Headlamps New Life

GM Recycling Program Giving Headlamps New Life

GM and Llink Technologies have collaborated to eliminate 95% of headlamp waste.

General Motors announced that, as the world drives toward an all-electric future, it remains committed to implementing sustainable practices and a circular economy model — a system where old materials find new life through remanufacturing, recycling and reuse. 

An Opportunity to Remanufacture Headlamps

When a vehicle is involved in a collision, the headlamp is one of the most commonly damaged components — second only to bumpers. While many components that make up a headlamp can be salvageable, due to insurance company preferences on claims, headlamp assemblies are often replaced with less expensive aftermarket parts during collision repair, sending many usable parts to landfills.

In 2017, a cross-functional team from GM — including Customer Care and Aftersales, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, and Product Engineering — identified this as an opportunity and began developing a headlamp remanufacturing process with supplier Llink Technologies.

The process replaces the headlamp housing and lens, reuses internal components such as integrated circuit chips, materials and fans, and tests each assembly to ensure it meets OEM standards and specifications.

A recycled GM headlamp undergoes robotic plasma treatment for superior lens/housing adhesion.

In 2021, the first remanufactured headlamp program launched with the 2016-2019 model year Chevrolet Silverado, which was enthusiastically received by GM’s customers and insurance companies, to the point that every remanufactured headlamp ended up in customer vehicles. Remanufactured headlamps are currently available for select 2016-19 Silverado models, select 2018-20 Equinox models and will be available on additional vehicles in the future.

A Llink Technologies worker performs final tests on a remanufactured GM lighting assembly to confirm that GM and FMVSS108 lighting requirements are met.
Why OEM Quality Matters

The GM remanufactured headlamps are produced to meet OEM specification requirements and quality with a two-year GM Parts warranty, while being cost competitive with the aftermarket headlamps, which insurance companies appreciate.

Exceeding Initial Goals

The GM and Llink Technologies teams initially set out to reclaim 25% of reusable components in the headlamp, while producing a product for customers and insurance companies that meets OEM standards at a competitive price.

Through the work of the GM and Llink Technologies teams, that goal was exceeded — remanufacturing the cores in GM’s current program can eliminate 95% of headlamp waste from going to landfills.

“With the initial program launch alone, we’ve salvaged and repurposed headlamp components that would fill more than 100 semi-truck trailers,” said Jeff Goulet, CEO of Llink Technologies. “I’m proud of the work our team does to help GM meet the needs of its customers and support sustainability efforts.”

Llink Technologies can reuse between 70 to 90% of each headlamp housing that is returned, and any nonusable parts such as the lens, housing or damaged materials are recycled. Additionally, 100% of the packaging — including the boxes and foam — is reused for shipping the remanufactured headlamps back to customers.

According to Llink Technologies, up to 80% less energy is consumed by remanufacturing compared to aftermarket manufacturing.

“We set out to do something new in the industry that was good for business, and that helped drive us toward a more sustainable future,” said Tod Stump, manager, GM Global Remanufacturing. “Since 2021, more than 13,000 headlamps have been remanufactured and there are plans to expand the program. We’re excited to be the first to create a headlamp remanufacturing program that can be a model for other programs in our industry. It’s a great example of how we are bringing our cultural goals — being bold, looking ahead and innovating now — to life.”

For more information on GM’s sustainability efforts, visit gmsustainability.com.

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