Ford unveils global water usage cuts

Posted on 3 Jan 2012

The automotive company aims to reduce the amount of water used per vehicle by 30% by 2015.

The base figure has been set at the amount of water used per vehicle in 2009, the company stating that it plans to achieve this target by employing greater use of green manufacturing practices.

This includes further use of membrane biological reactors, a biological water treatment system, which has already been installed at plants in Mexico, India and China.

The complex system is able to make up to 65% of the plant’s wastewater suitable for high-quality reuse elsewhere in the facility or for irrigation.

“Water remains one of our top environmental priorities and our aggressive reduction target helps ensure continued focus on this critical resource,” said Sue Cischke, group vice president within the group’s sustainability, environment and safety engineering department.

The amount of water used to make a vehicle will have been cut by more than half of the level they were at in 2000 if Ford meets its new goal, from 9.5 cubic meters in 2000, to 3.5 cubic meters in 2015.

Another approach is to cut the amount of water necessary to complete a task. “As we invest in new and existing facilities globally, our water strategy prioritizes sustainable manufacturing technologies,” said John Fleming, executive vice president of within Ford’s Global Manufacturing and Labour Affairs department.

Mr Fleming pointed to Ford’s engine plants that are using minimum quantity lubrication (MQL) machining, also known as dry-machining, as a way of meeting water usage targets. This technology lubricates the cutting tool with a very small amount of oil instead of with a large quantity of water mixture. Ford has claimed that this technology saves thousands of gallons of water every year.

Ford’s progress against its water reduction target will be communicated in the company’s annual sustainability report and through participation in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Water Disclosure, an initiative that measures company’s success in regards to environmental issues.