Ford to Cut Landfill Waste by 40% per Vehicle
Cutting waste-to-landfill at Ford's Van Dyke Transmission Plant has always been important to workers there, but they weren't satisfied until last fall, when a small, diligent local committee played a major role in solving a nagging 10-ton problem.
The solution – a way to keep 10 tons' worth of 8-foot-long, 350-pound fabric coolant filters from being landfilled monthly – means the Van Dyke facility is Ford's first North American zero waste-to-landfill transmission plant and now diverts a total of 15 tons of waste-from-landfill monthly.
Moreover, the solution exemplifies how Ford already is making progress on plans to reduce the amount of waste-to-landfill from its facilities worldwide as outlined in the company's new five-year global waste reduction strategy. Under the plan, waste-to-landfill will drop to just 13.4 pounds – or by 40 percent – per vehicle by 2016.
The comprehensive strategy covers all angles of Ford's waste reduction plans – from working with global suppliers to use more eco-friendly packaging, to enabling employees such as those at Van Dyke to play an active role in coming up with ways to help Ford reach its goals. Even kitchen waste is addressed.
"Reducing waste is a crucial part of our strategy toward building a world-class manufacturing system," said John Fleming, executive vice president, Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs. "By applying standard waste reduction processes across our global facilities, we are, through our actions – and not just words – improving the quality of life where we do business."
There can also be financial benefits: In 2012, Ford generated $225 million in revenue through the recycling of 568,000 tons of scrap metal in the U.S. and Canada alone.
The resulting financial and environmental benefits mean Ford's new five-year global waste reduction strategy encompasses the company's overall "Reduce, reuse and recycle" commitment that applies to everything from the vehicles it builds to the facilities where they are made.
The new strategy also builds on the success the company saw between 2007 and 2011, when the amount of waste sent to landfill per vehicle dropped from 37.9 to 22.7 pounds – a 40 percent reduction. Reductions were accomplished through the launch of new initiatives and programs, such as paint waste recycling at facilities in Australia, Thailand, India and Spain.
Ford plans to continue reducing the amount of waste-to-landfill by emphasizing prevention, minimization, reuse and recycle of waste whenever possible. Specific actions include trying to reduce or eliminate the amount of certain kinds of waste from entering Ford facilities in the first place.
Other actions identified as key near-term goals for waste reduction at Ford facilities around the world include:
Identifying the five largest volume waste-to-landfill streams at each plant, developing plans to reduce each and tracking progress
Minimizing waste by leveraging the Ford production system – a continuously improving, flexible and disciplined common global production system that encompasses a set of principles and processes to drive lean manufacturing
Improving waste sorting procedures to make recycling and reuse easier
Investing in new technologies that minimize waste, such as dry-machining
Expanding programs that deal with managing specific kinds of waste like metallic particles from the grinding process and paint sludgeDave Lewis, environmental engineer at the Van Dyke plant, said he believes one particular aspect of the new global waste strategy could yield the best results – enabling and encouraging local personnel to affect change.
"It's very empowering to be able to address a problem that is so important – and not just to our plant or our company – but society in general," says Lewis. "Without the power to implement such change, some of the best solutions could never see the light of day."
Between 2010 and 2012, Van Dyke kept 111 tons of waste from landfill. Van Dyke became a zero waste-to-landfill plant in late 2012 after the environmental committee there figured out on their own how to deal with giant, 8-foot-long, 350-pound fabric coolant filters that were creating 10 tons of waste a month.
The local committee worked with Ford's Powertrain Operations and the Environmental Quality Office to develop a way to properly manage the waste filters by finding separate recyclers for the used filters and the materials they contained post-use. A video showcasing Van Dyke's waste-to-landfill reduction efforts can be found here.
Robert Brown, vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, said Van Dyke is being used as a model for Ford facilities around the world, exemplifying how Ford will succeed in reaching the goals outlined in the new waste reduction strategy.
"We are always evaluating how our operations handle waste around the world, and we consider Van Dyke just one of many successes we've had," says Brown. "We use Van Dyke's waste reduction efforts to not only exemplify what can be done, but what should be done."
Ford's push to establish more zero waste-to-landfill facilities globally is one element of the company's commitment to reducing its environmental impact. Other initiatives include:
Greenhouse gas emissions: Reduce from manufacturing facilities by 30 percent per vehicle between 2010 and 2025
Water use: Reduce the amount used in the manufacture of each vehicle by 30 percent between 2009 and 2015
Energy consumption: 25 percent reduction in average consumption per vehicle globally between 2011 and 2016
SOURCE Ford Motor Company
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?
Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly