Ford focuses on water stewardship as it approaches key carbon target

Automotive giant Ford will place an increased focus on improving water security, as the company's latest sustainability report reveals that it is within touching distance of a 30% carbon reduction goal originally scheduled for 2025.

Ford’s latest sustainability report was released on Friday (25 August) outlining the current 29.6% reduction in carbon emissions per vehicle produced since 2010. Likely to reach its 30% reduction goal eight years ahead of schedule, the motor company is renewing its water strategy to reflect the “continuously changing” societal demands and technological opportunities.

Speaking to edie today (29 August), Ford’s vice president of sustainability of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Bob Holycross said: “Water stewardship is absolutely a big focus for us now. When you look around the broader areas of sustainability, water usage is definitely becoming a new focus, not just for us in the manufacturing industry, but also across the globe.

“Water is not just about keeping it clean and using it efficiently, but water is a basic human right and when you take a step back to view it from a societal point of view, companies need to start focusing on ways to reflect this.”

Holycross claimed that Ford was evolving its strategy to view water beyond a resource. A goal to reduce water usage by an additional 30% by 2020 expands on the 61% reduction the company recorded between 2000 and 2015, but Ford has made strides with its aim to use no drinking water in manufacturing processes.

The company recently became the first automaker to pledge to the Business Alliance for Water and Climate’s Improve Water Security initiative, which not only attempts to drive water efficiency but also reduce water pollution. The initiative is backed by the United Nations Global Compact, CDP, SUEZ and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

This week marks World Water Week, and Ford’s latest sustainability report reveals the steps taken to promote water stewardship to its suppliers. Through the company’s Partnership for a Cleaner Environment (PACE) programme, more than 350 practices have been implements across sites shared with strategic suppliers.

The PACE programme covers 1,100 supplier sites for more than 40 companies, and Ford expects to save 550 million gallons of water and cut carbon emissions by 500,000 metric tonnes in the next five years through the initiative.

In fact, suppliers that participate in the PACE programme are on track to save around two billion litres of water – enough to fill 837 competition-sized swimming pools – according to data collected in 2016.

In 2013, the company hit its previous goal of decreasing water use per vehicle by 30% from 2009 to 2015. Ford has already achieved a 4% reduction in water usage in 2016. The company’s Dagenham facility has already reached a target to reduce water and energy consumption by 50%, saving 17.5 million litres of water in 2015.

Early arrivals

The water progress was issued alongside the revelation that Ford has surpassed goals relating to energy use and waste reduction. A goal to reduce global facility energy use per vehicle produced by 25% was hit this year, while the 65% reduction in waste sent to landfill globally is well above a 40% target.

In fact, Ford expanded a zero-waste-to-landfill programme in 2016 to account for 82 facilities globally. In total, 49 manufacturing facilities and 33 non-manufacturing sites now send zero waste to landfill.

Holycross suggested that these targets would be reviewed in a similar fashion to the water target, whereby societal impacts and improvements to innovations shape how the company sets metrics and targets in these areas.

“It’s always about continuous improvement,” Hollycross added. “We can’t stand still and while its great we can reach goals ahead of schedule, society is always demanding and technologies always open up new avenues to go further. This is something Ford is committed to, it’s a continuous improvement project.”

Keep a look out for edie’s exclusive interview with Holycross, discussing the ongoing “revolution” of the transport sector and how Ford is adapting to a service-based model, which will be published in the coming days.

Matt Mace

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