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TheStreet Open House

Ford Aims To Cut Waste-to-Landfill 40 Percent Per Vehicle By 2016 Through New Five-Year Global Waste Reduction Plan

"Reducing waste is a crucial part of our strategy toward building a world-class manufacturing system," said John Fleming, executive vice president, Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs. "By applying standard waste reduction processes across our global facilities, we are, through our actions – and not just words – improving the quality of life where we do business."

There can also be financial benefits: In 2012, Ford generated $225 million in revenue through the recycling of 568,000 tons of scrap metal in the U.S. and Canada alone.

The resulting financial and environmental benefits mean Ford's new five-year global waste reduction strategy encompasses the company's overall "Reduce, reuse and recycle" commitment that applies to everything from the vehicles it builds to the facilities where they are made.

The new strategy also builds on the success the company saw between 2007 and 2011, when the amount of waste sent to landfill per vehicle dropped from 37.9 to 22.7 pounds – a 40 percent reduction. Reductions were accomplished through the launch of new initiatives and programs, such as paint waste recycling at facilities in Australia, Thailand, India and Spain.

Ford plans to continue reducing the amount of waste-to-landfill by emphasizing prevention, minimization, reuse and recycle of waste whenever possible. Specific actions include trying to reduce or eliminate the amount of certain kinds of waste from entering Ford facilities in the first place.

Other actions identified as key near-term goals for waste reduction at Ford facilities around the world include:

  • Identifying the five largest volume waste-to-landfill streams at each plant, developing plans to reduce each and tracking progress
  • Minimizing waste by leveraging the Ford production system – a continuously improving, flexible and disciplined common global production system that encompasses a set of principles and processes to drive lean manufacturing
  • Improving waste sorting procedures to make recycling and reuse easier
  • Investing in new technologies that minimize waste, such as dry-machining
  • Expanding programs that deal with managing specific kinds of waste like metallic particles from the grinding process and paint sludge

Dave Lewis, environmental engineer at the Van Dyke plant, said he believes one particular aspect of the new global waste strategy could yield the best results – enabling and encouraging local personnel to affect change.

"It's very empowering to be able to address a problem that is so important – and not just to our plant or our company – but society in general," says Lewis. "Without the power to implement such change, some of the best solutions could never see the light of day."

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