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Ford cuts global water use 8.5% per vehicle from 2011 to 2012; total usage down 62% since 2000

22 March 2013

Ford has reduced the average amount of water used to make each of its vehicles by 8.5% between 2011 and 2012—putting the company more than halfway toward its current goal of using an average of 4 cubic meters per vehicle globally by 2015.

Since 2000, Ford has reduced the amount of water used around the world from 64 million cubic meters to 24 million cubic meters—a reduction of about 10.6 billion gallons, or about 62%.

Ford’s water reduction success is a result of the company’s commitment to reduce the amount of water it uses by aggressively monitoring and managing just about every drop of water going into and out of its facilities and properties, says Andy Hobbs, director, Environmental Quality Office. Ford aims to use an average of 1,056 gallons of water to make each vehicle globally—consistent with its overall goal of a 30% reduction in the amount of water used per vehicle between 2009 and 2015.

Ford voluntarily launched its Global Water Management Initiative in 2000, putting in place ways to manage water conservation, quality and reuse of storm and process water. Ford’s water strategy complements the company’s overall Code of Human Rights, Basic Working Conditions and Corporate Responsibilities.

Ford’s biggest water-related projects within its facilities included:

  • Cologne Engine Plant (Germany): Decreased water use by 50% per engine through implementation of a dry-machining process.

  • Silverton Assembly Plant (South Africa): Began using a $2.5 million on-site wastewater treatment plant increasing the amount of water that can be reused by up to 15%.

  • Chennai Assembly Plant (India): Installed a new system that began operating in September and allows the plant to recycle 100% of its water.

  • Chongqing Assembly 1 and Chongqing Assembly 2 (China): Both plants added advanced water treatment equipment to improve recycling. CAF1 recycles an average 100,000 gallons daily, and CAF2 an average 65,000 gallons.

  • Louisville Assembly Plant (US): Recently replaced parking lot asphalt with pervious paving blocks to manage stormwater runoff, helping protect nearby bodies of freshwater.

Outside of the company, The Ford Fund in 2012 supported 19 different water-related projects in China, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, India, Germany and South Africa. One project in arid Southwest China, for example, involved 60 Ford employees from Nanjing, who helped eight families build water cellars designed to capture water during the rainy season to store and use during drier times of the year.

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Comments

Apart from the environmental benefits, this is a clear strategy for risk reduction. With climate change only getting worse, any part of the world can succumb to water shortages and regulatory limits on water use. They don't want to shut down a plant because of water rationing.

4 m3 of water per vehicle is very little, about the same as the production of 3 pairs of jeans. It is about 1 month of (my) household consumption. But there is of course indirect water use in the supply chain. I wouldn't be surprised if that is an order of magnitude more.

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