Ford gears up to cut manufacturing waste by 70%

Car manufacturing giant Ford has unveiled plans to slash landfilled waste across its European plants by 70% by 2016 as part of its new five-year sustainability strategy.

Ford’s green manufacturing plan, which launched in 2011, outlines how it intends to cut waste from its European manufacturing processes over the next five years, as well as highlighting achievements in waste reductions to date.

Speaking at a live webinar earlier this week (January 30), Ford’s European director of manufacturing power train operations, Dirk Heller, offered insight into how the company’s latest strategy would enable it to reduce waste sent to landfill by 70% while ramping up production levels.

As part of the project, Ford is aiming to reduce the amount of waste generated per car and van from a 2011 baseline of 5kg to 1.5kg by 2016, generating a waste saving of 5.5bn kg of waste to landfill each year. Since 2007 the manufacturer has cut waste by 40%.

According to Heller, to achieve these savings the company will be “looking at all elements of waste”, adding that the long-term aim for Ford is to “manufacture as quickly as possible, using the least utilities possible, with as little waste coming out”.

In 2010, Ford facilities globally sent about 73,000 tonnes of waste to landfill, a slight increase of 4.6% from 2009, as a result of an increase in production from 2009 to 2010.

However, it reduced waste to landfill on a per-vehicle basis by about 13%, which Ford says reflects its commitment to reducing waste produced per unit of production. It is now looking to increase unit production, while cutting waste.

Meanwhile Ford’s European manager of environmental quality Andreas Reiss, who also took part in the webinar, said that four of the company’s facilities have already achieved zero waste to landfill in Germany, Belgium, Taiwan and China.

Reiss said a key feature of Ford’s waste reduction plans is waste avoidance. Where waste is generated it looks to optimisation, which he said makes business sense as the cost of resources is going “permanently up”.

He added: “At the end of the day how we use resources will determine our future as a company”.

Carys Matthews

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