Today in the Fortune 500: GM and AIG ready to cut government purse strings, GE focuses on the fun stuff and Pepsi pushes Gatorade’s sports drink status.

December 15, 2010, 6:39 PM UTC

The Fortune 500 comes out just once a year, but the companies on it make headlines every day. Here then are today’s highlights of news and happenings coming from the biggest names in business.

General Motors Corporation exhibit showing the...
Image by UW Digital Collections via Flickr

By Shelley DuBois, reporter

GM SHALL BE MASTER OF ITS OWN DESTINY the company’s new head of finance said, which means that the auto maker will take on less debt in the future. It’s a rare financial path for Detroit, but a necessary one since reliance on over-borrowing handcuffed GM (GM) leading up to the crisis. [Wall Street Journal]

AIG THINKS MASTER OF ITS OWN DESTINY HAS A NICE RING TO IT, apparently. The bailed-out insurance company is encouraged by GM’s move towards independence. CEO Steve Miller said he saw a similar status for AIG (AIG) on the horizon. Stocks in AIG jumped following the announcement. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

ON THE SUBJECT OF TURNING OVER NEW LEAVES GM has set up 20 plants that send almost no waste to landfills. The company wants at least half of its facilities to achieve this landfill-free status by the end of the year.  The project includes such recycling measures as turning cardboard into sound-muffling material for new cars and reusing paint sludge to make shipping containers. [Reuters]

IT’S FUN TO BE AT GE again, CEO Jeff Immelt told investors. The company is back on track, he says, and well-situated to grow its industrial arm. Immelt also announced plans to buy back about $3 billion worth of stock that GE (GE) sold to Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) to help get through the crisis. [Wall Street Journal]

GATORADE IS NOT FOR EVERYONE says Indra Nooyi, owner of the drink’s parent company PepsiCo (PEP). Pepsi made a mistake in the past by marketing Gatorade as a social beverage which it is not, she says, it’s for athletes. But Nooyi insists Pepsi is shoring up Gatorade’s sports status and the brand is back on target. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

CHECK YOURSELF Wells Fargo (WFC) introduced a tool at its ATM machines that helps customers keep track of spending. The program, called “Cash Tracker,” lets customers pick a monthly spending limit, which they can monitor when they withdraw money. [CNBC]