Ford aims to cut water usage by a third by 2015

Car manufacturing giant Ford has unveiled an "aggressive" new water strategy which aims to cut water usage per vehicle built by 30% in 2015, compared with a 2009 baseline.

Ford is hoping to build on the success of its global water management strategy which it launched in 2000, which saw a reduction in global water use of 62%, equivalent to 10.5bn gallons between 2000 and 2010. Measuring on a per vehicle basis, global water use at Ford decreased by 49% between 2000 and 2010 and 45% in the US.

According to Ford, prior to the launch of its 2000 initiative, many of its facilities had “little ability to even track water usage”. Since then, software which predicts and tracks water usage at Ford’s portfolio of plants has been rolled out.

Furthermore, Ford said its new water strategy looks at water use from both an “environmental and social perspective” and follows on from the Water Disclosure Global Report 2011, a Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) initiative set up to help investors better understand water scarcity and related issues.

Ford became the first auto manufacturer to join the CDP, which originally focussed on climate change strategies and greenhouse gas reporting, and said it anticipates “similar benefits” from the CDP Water Disclosure, adding that it provides a “harmonised method for companies to report on water usage, water risks and water management”.

Ford environmental quality office manager, Larry Merritt, said: “We recognise that these environmental issues are increasingly important to our stakeholders, including our customers, investors and business partners.
“Water conservation is integral to Ford’s global sustainability strategy. By reporting our progress, we support positive social change and reduce the environmental impact of our facilities.”

Ford sustainability environment and safety engineering vice president Sue Cischke, added: “Water remains one of our top environmental priorities and our aggressive reduction target helps ensure continued focus on this critical resource.”

To support the initiative, pioneering technology to help reduce water consumption has been installed at Ford’s manufacturing plants.

According to Ford, production at its Mexico-based Hermosillo stamping and assembly plant, which produces the Ford Fusion, FusionHybrid and Lincoln MKZ, doubled between 2000 and 2010 while water usage also decreased during the same period by 40% as a result of the technology.

A biological water treatment system was installed at the plant which enabled reuse of 65% of the plant’s wastewater for irrigation or elsewhere in the facility. The system was also deployed at its Chennai, India and Chongqing, China plants.

Mr Merritt, added: “We applied innovative technology to our Hermosillo plant to reduce water consumption, minimise impact on the community and build vehicles in a more sustainable manner.”

In addition, the new strategy will see the introduction of year-on-year efficiency targets across numerous divisions, while Ford said it anticipates carrying out a more “holistic” review of water its usage.

If Ford meets its goal of reducing the amount of water used by 30% between 2009 and 2015, the amount of water used to make a vehicle will have dropped from 9.5 cu m in 2000 to about 3.5 cu m in 2015.

Carys Matthews

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