American Recycler News, Inc.


Ford sets new goal to cut waste

Ford plans to further reduce the amount of waste it sends to landfills by 10 percent per vehicle by the end of the year – building on existing efforts that have cut global waste by 100 million pounds (44 percent) in the last 5 years.

If successful, that means the company would generate about 20 lbs. of waste per vehicle on a global basis – roughly the weight of one tire.

Ford develops such targets as part of its annual environmental business planning process that also recently led to establishment of a global cross-functional team spanning several divisions to review waste generation more holistically.

Between 2007 and 2011, Ford globally cut the amount of waste it sends to landfills by 39 percent per vehicle – from 37 lbs. to just under 23 lbs.

One of the best examples of how Ford has reduced waste can be found at its plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, where the automaker uses an innovative process to eliminate waste. Ford began a pilot program in 2011 with a local energy supplier at AutoAlliance, where paint solids are sent to the energy supplier and used as a raw material in its process to generate electricity.

“When we paint a vehicle, not all the paint ends up on the vehicle,” said Lisa Hansen, manager, technical services, EQO. “We use a water wash scrubber system to capture and collect the excess paint solids so they are not released into the environment.”

The reprocessed paint solids are then dewatered to increase their energy value and sent to a local power plant. This is an innovative way to keep material out of the landfill and use it as a raw material in another process. The project is being replicated at several other Ford assembly plants.

The compactor is powered by solar panels and compresses the waste much more efficiently than the previous compactor. The compacted trash is then sent to a waste-to-energy facility where it is converted into power. This compaction reduces the number of shipments and thus the fuel consumed for its transportation. Coupled with previous efforts to recycle all of the site’s cardboard, paper, wood and plastic, this eliminates the need to dispose of any waste in a landfill.