Ford Motors boosts bottom line from closed loop thinking

Ford Motors is starting to profit from a corporate innovation strategy that recovers waste materials and turns them into new component vehicle parts.

Through a series of strategic partnerships, the car manufacturer is reclaiming materials such as used carpet and denim products and building them into the design spec of its manufacturing operations.

According to Ford's global director of sustainability John Viera, the practice - which forms part of a wider in-house sustainable materials strategy - is already yielding financial gains.

Calling it a "core area in terms of making profit", Veira said the approach not only refines the manufacturing process, but promotes new technologies.

"We're really focusing on how we want our vehicles to have less impact on the planet," he explained. "Can we take waste that would be going to the landfill and use that material for our products?"

Ford is transforming used carpets into new engine components while turning waste denim into new vehicle carpet padding for increased soundproofing and interior comfort.

Speaking to clean-tech innovation outfit Noble Profit, Viera added that this diversion of post-consumer and post-industrial waste would be an increasingly important approach in terms of more sustainable resource management going forward for the company.

Last year the motor giant said it was seeking to enter into more strategic alliances with UK waste management firms as part of its zero waste drive.

Ford Europe's legal compliance manager Mark Dredge said the company was committed to reducing waste to landfill by 70% over five years across its European operations, but needed to overcome "infrastructure limitations" in order to achieve this.

"We want to follow the waste hierarchy - is zero waste to landfill feasible?" he questioned. "Robust data is essential ... we are seeking partnerships with the waste industry to help us here."

He hinted there would be co-investment opportunities if the right partners were found.

"We don't want to be stockpiling our waste or sending it to a waste transfer station and claim we're zero waste to landfill - we are looking to invest in our own recovery infrastructure."

Maxine Perella


| manufacturing | zero waste | resource security


Waste & resource management
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