DEARBORN – Ford plans to further reduce the amount of waste it sends to landfills by 10 percent per vehicle by the end of the year – building on existing efforts that have cut global waste by 100 million pounds (44 percent) in the last five years.
If successful, that means the company would generate about 20 pounds of waste per vehicle on a global basis – roughly the weight of one tire.
“Reducing waste to landfills is one of our top environmental priorities and we continue to challenge our teams to identify and implement innovative solutions,” said Andy Hobbs, director, Ford’s Environmental Quality Office.
Ford develops such targets as part of its annual environmental business planning process that also recently led to establishment of a global cross-functional team spanning several divisions to review waste generation more holistically.
Between 2007 and 2011, Ford globally cut the amount of waste it sends to landfills by 39 percent per vehicle – from 37 pounds to just under 23 pounds.
In North America, the amount of waste generated per vehicle has been cut even further – by 47 percent.
One of the best examples of how Ford has reduced waste can be found at its plant in Flat Rock, Mich., where the automaker uses an innovative process to eliminate waste and transform paint solids into energy at the AutoAlliance International facility.
Ford began a pilot program in 2011 with a local energy supplier at AutoAlliance, where paint solids – a material often sent to landfills – are sent to the energy supplier and used as a raw material in its process to generate electricity.
“When we paint a vehicle, not all the paint ends up on the vehicle,” said Lisa Hansen, manager, Technical Services, EQO. “We use a water wash scrubber system to capture and collect the excess paint solids so they are not released into the environment.”
The reprocessed paint solids are then dewatered to increase their energy value and sent to a local power plant. This is an innovative way to keep material out of the landfill and use it as a raw material in another process. The project is being replicated at several other Ford assembly plants.
Another example of how Ford keeps waste out of landfills can be found at its Michigan Proving Grounds (MPG) in Romeo, Mich. Earlier this year, Ford installed its first solar-powered compactor at the site. The nearly 4,000-acre self-contained site previously collected trash in open-top boxes and then disposed of the trash in a landfill.
MPG and its waste management partner teamed up to take a fresh look at the operation and came up with a winning combination of recycling measures and new solar-powered technology that can provide the power required of trash-handling equipment.
The new energy-efficient compactor, powered by solar panels, compresses the waste much more efficiently than the previous compactor. The compacted trash is then sent to a waste-to-energy facility where it is converted into power. This compaction reduces the number of shipments and thus the fuel consumed for its transportation. Coupled with previous efforts to recycle all of the site’s cardboard, paper, wood and plastic, this eliminates the need to dispose of any waste in a landfill.
Other examples of Ford’s efforts to reduce waste can be found at numerous facilities:
• Chicago Stamping Plant, with its waste management partner, has established a Blue Bag recycling program in which recyclable materials are collected throughout the plant. Instead of placing these materials in the general trash, they are placed in designated collection bins so the materials are recycled and not sent to landfills. Recently, more than 3,000 pounds of plastic was diverted from landfills through this program
• Kentucky Truck Plant and its waste management partner have established a Single Stream Recycling program where recyclable materials are sent to a sorting facility for reuse and recycling, which has reduced compacted trash sent to landfills by 39 percent
• Ohio Assembly Plant sponsored a poster contest for local elementary school students. Plant personnel voted on the winning poster by placing recyclable plastic bottles in bins labeled with the posters. The bin with the most bottles was the contest winner and the winning poster was used to label all the bins in the plant. This effort resulted in an additional 16 percent reduction in waste sent to landfills
Ford’s waste reduction efforts are the latest example of how the company remains committed to sustainability – from the materials used in vehicles to the plants in which they are built.
In December, Ford announced plans to reduce the amount of water it uses in the manufacture of each vehicle 30 percent by 2015, compared with the amount used per vehicle in 2009.
During the week leading up to Earth Day, the company detailed how it is working on numerous new sustainable materials for possible use in its vehicles, including corn, sugar beets and cane, coconuts and even shredded money.
And Ford has announced it is launching new initiatives that encourage people to take a more sustainable approach in life year-round with a national electrified vehicle education program, multi-city tour and the debut of a 10-film documentary series with SHFT.com, an award-winning sustainability lifestyle platform.