After two years of hard work and planning, the historical Ford Rouge Center has achieved true landfill-free status. It is the company’s largest complex to send zero waste to landfill.
When a facility is given landfill-free status, it means absolutely no manufacturing waste from the facility goes to any landfills. The center is now able to keep more than 14 million pounds of waste out of landfills—enough to fill the beds of more than 4,400 Ford F-150 trucks.
With 16 million square feet of factory floor space and approximately 7,000 employees it was a challenge, but we’ve succeeded in finding solutions for our manufacturing waste streams. Since 2004, the historical Ford Rouge Center has served as the model of 21st century sustainable manufacturing. Two years ago we instituted a closed-loop recycling system, where we recycle up to 20 million pounds of aluminum stamping scrap each month, which is the equivalent to 30,000 F-150 bodies. In addition, the plant has one of the largest living roofs in the world, which helps us reduce energy usage by keeping the plant warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.—Gary Johnson, Ford North America manufacturing vice president
The six facilities at the Ford Rouge Center join 68 other Ford facilities around the world in going true zero waste to landfill. The process of diverting waste at the Rouge was tough because of the number of facilities there. Ford environmental engineers had to look at all of the waste streams at each plant to determine what could be done with the waste.
One particularly difficult question was how to handle the swarf—the metal shavings and chips that are created when metal is ground during the engine manufacturing process at Dearborn Engine Plant. The team found a machine called a briquetter that could transform the metal back into a brick that can be recycled. Any coolant oil on the metal shavings is squeezed out during the process and is then reused.
In another case, long plastic rivet strips needed to be chopped into small pieces so they could be recycled.