Waste Not
Ford Aims to Reduce Water Use 72%, to Zero Potable Water Use in Manufacturing

Ford is aiming to reduce its use of the world’s most precious resource – water – by nearly three-fourths as it takes its next step toward using zero potable (drinking) water for vehicle manufacturing.

By 2020, Ford aspires to have reduced its water usage per vehicle by 72 percent and will have saved more than 10 billion gallons of water since the turn of the millennium. In layman’s terms, that roughly means for every one gallon of water Ford used in manufacturing in 2000, it aims to use about one liter by 2020.

“With many of our plants located in water-stressed regions around the globe, we’re focused on responsible water stewardship in our operations,” says Bruce Hettle, Group VP of Global Manufacturing & Labor Affairs. “We aim to ensure a stable water supply for our facilities, while working with local communities to help ensure their needs are met.”

Of all the water on the planet, less than 1 percent is available for human use – according to WaterSense, an EPA partnership program. The agency says the remaining 99 percent is salt water in oceans, fresh water frozen in polar ice caps, or water inaccessible for practical use.

Ford has saved 10 billion gallons of water from 2000 to 2015, a decrease of 61 percent – enough to fill over 15,000 competition-sized swimming pools. By achieving that feat in 2013, Ford beat its own water reduction target by two years.

“We recognize water is a critical resource, so we established an aggressive 2020 target, building on our successful reduction efforts to date,” says Andrew Hobbs, Director of Ford’s Environmental Quality Office. “We are exploring innovative ways to reduce our footprint, starting with our aspirational goal of zero potable water use in our manufacturing processes. From there, we have a final goal of zero water withdrawal for our manufacturing processes.”

Ford has achieved its reductions to date by implementing new technologies such as its 3-wet paint process and minimum quantity lubrication – saving hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per year. It will continue to roll out real-time water metering using innovative technologies to aggressively manage water use. The company also conducts ongoing water assessments to determine where new water-saving processes can be implemented.

Ford set out to reduce water use in 2000 with its Global Water Management Initiative. The company’s strategy aligns with core elements of the CEO Water Mandate, a private-public initiative launched by the UN Secretary General in 2007 and adopted by Ford in 2014.

“Ford recognizes the human right to water,” says Kim Pittel, VP of Sustainability, Environment, & Safety Engineering. “Setting an aspirational goal of zero water withdrawal for its manufacturing processes and endorsing the CEO Water Mandate are all public demonstrations of this. We’ve not only moved to reduce water in our own facilities, but we are now sharing our leading practices for decreasing water use with our suppliers, and multiplying our impact.”

Ford is one of eight companies to earn an “A” for its actions to conserve water by CDP, the world’s only global environmental disclosure agency. Ford is the only North American company to earn the agency’s highest honor for corporate water stewardship.

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