In the automotive race, there are several things to be excited about from an environmental standpoint these days. Hybrid/electric engines, increased fuel economy, enhanced electronics, active safety measures and decreased maintenance costs are all top selling points. Manufacturers are beginning to add environmental initiatives both in the vehicles themselves as well as at the manufacturing plant. Have you ever wondered if an auto manufacture plant could be ‘landfill-free’? Ford Motor Company’s Oakville Assembly Plant has done just that.
The assembly plant, the first assembly plant in North America to achieve that distinction, is now 100% landfill-free when it comes to operational waste.. Ford’s Essex and Windsor engine plants received landfill-free status in 2012 and 2013 respectively. With its achievement in Oakville, Ford’s entire Canadian manufacturing operation is landfill-free.
In 2013, the Oakville plant recycled about 2,000 metric tons of wood, cardboard, paper and plastic. That recycling saved more than 5,000 cubic meters of landfill space and more than 32 million liters of water. Oakville also sends its wastewater sludge to a local power generation company where it is converted into energy for the surrounding community.
Fortunately, Ford Motors isn’t limiting its landfill-free designations to just Canada. The company has goals to reduce global waste sent to landfills (per vehicle produced) by 40% by the year 2016 (compared to 2011 baseline). In 2011, Ford met its 40% landfill reduction goal for global waste per vehicle as compared to the then 2007 baseline.
Ford maintains 21 landfill-free facilities around the globe and is helping create a new standard for vehicle production. General Motors currently has 111 landfill-free sites around the globe, and is looking to expand that to 125 sites by 2020.
Often, especially in the automotive marketplace, the product is a highlight with little attention paid to what happened to get the product to market. It is refreshing to see companies like Ford and GM taking steps towards sustainability throughout the entire production process.