Silverton Assembly Plant in South Africa involved in water-saving initiatives

Ford dealerships going green too

Ford Motor Company is furthering its commitment to aggressively step up water conservation programmes at its global facilities and among the company's suppliers, according to its 15th annual Sustainability Report.

Leaders at Ford believe it is a basic human right to have clean, affordable drinking water and access to sanitation, and last year Ford reduced per vehicle water use by 30 percent globally from a 2009 baseline, reaching its goal two years ahead of schedule. Plans are under way to further cut water use by another 2 percent this year and to set new long-term goals.

"As Ford continues with its largest global expansion in more than 50 years, the company also recognises that working in regions struggling with water scarcity will soon make water a costly commodity," said John Fleming, executive vice president, Global Manufacturing and Labour Affairs for Ford Motor Company. "From a business perspective, understanding future constraints and immediately reducing Ford's water consumption makes sense."

In April, Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally endorsed the CEO Water Mandate to more clearly define the company's mission. The private-public initiative launched by the U.N. Secretary General in 2007 requires participating companies to report their water management progress annually.

Later this year, Ford will begin asking high water-use suppliers and those working in water-stressed regions to voluntarily report water consumption. Ford will then work with the suppliers to achieve reductions. The hope is that successful initiatives will be mirrored by other suppliers globally, helping Ford to significantly reduce its environmental footprint.

Across the globe, examples of Ford's success with water conservation are numerous. In Africa, Ford Motor Company of South Africa (FMCSA) understands that the long-term future of its business in the country requires a commitment to the environment. FMCSA has already invested R21 million in a new Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), which boasts the latest technology to facilitate the manufacturing of the Ranger at its Silverton Assembly Plant.

The plant's capacity to process water has increased from 60 percent to 100 percent, while 20 percent of that water is then used in industrial processes at the facility. The old effluent plant was not able to handle the peak volumes, the new WWTP can now handle 100% of the maximum volume of waste water the plant produces.

Cuautitlán Stamping and Assembly Plant in Cuautitlán, Mexico was built in 1964 and the plant is located in a water-scarce region. Over the decades, the city has become host to many international corporations, including beverage companies that use large volumes of water. By 1990, the Cuautitlán government recognized that water demand was outstripping supply and began limiting water use and imposing stricter permitting.

Changes implemented by Ford at the facility include:

  • Installing dedicated piping for potable water to ensure it is used only for human consumption
  • Recycling all other water used at the plant

Replacing asphalt with ecological concrete, which allows rain to re-enter the ground
The result: Almost 58 percent reduction in water use per vehicle produced at Cuautitlán Stamping and Assembly Plant between 2000 and 2013.

"This is a success story we are very proud of," said Luis Lara, manager of Mexican operations for Ford's Environmental Quality Office."When you are in a water-stressed region, you appreciate that having water is a precious thing. Any cubic metre of water we save at the Cuautitlán plant is a cubic metre of water available for people in the neighbouring communities."

In Europe, Ford's engine plants in Cologne, Germany and Craiova, Romania where the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine is produced introduced advanced manufacturing techniques that reduce the volume of water coolant required when machining aluminium engine parts to just five millilitres per component from two litres. To reduce CO2 emissions, energy required to run the Cologne plant comes from renewable sources, including three hydro-power plants in Norway and Sweden.

Ford began strategically working to improve the company's water impact globally in 2000 by setting year-over-year reduction targets as part of its Global Water Management Initiative. The success of the initiative is measurable.

Not only has the company reached its water-use-per-vehicle goal two years ahead of schedule, it cut global water use by 61 percent, or by more than 37 million litres, between 2000 and 2013. That savings is the equivalent of 1 billion five-minute-long showers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The total amount of water used around the globe at Ford facilities went from 64 million cubic metres per year to 25 million cubic meters.

Other highlights of Ford's Sustainability Report include:

  • The sale of nearly 2.5 times more electrified vehicles in 2013 compared to 2012
  • Ford's actions to increase supply chain transparency and ensure the minerals in products are sourced responsibly
  • An 18 percent reduction of CO2 emissions in the European fleet between 2007 and 2013
  • Ford's priority to accelerate new product development. The 2014 global product launch features 23 new or significantly refreshed vehicles, the most of any year in a century
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