Ford Motor Company, building on its company-wide effort to dramatically reduce water usage, has become the first automaker to join CDP Water Disclosure. This commitment by Ford is part of its broader global sustainability program to reduce its environmental footprint.
The initiative is run by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which established the disclosure and reporting framework used by 2,500 of the world’s largest companies to report carbon emissions. CDP Water Disclosure extends this approach to managing the world’s shrinking water resources, which has become a critical global environmental and quality of life issue. CDP Water Disclosure will serve as a central clearinghouse for Ford and other participating companies to report on water usage, water risks and water management plans of company operations and their supply chains.
“Water scarcity is quickly becoming a critical global issue with significant social and environmental implications and all of us need to be part of the solution,” said Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. “For the past decade, Ford has made it a priority to conserve water. Joining CDP Water Disclosure is another important step in our commitment to this issue.”
As a founding responder in CDP Water Disclosure, Ford is helping to shape the Water Disclosure Questionnaire, which will serve as the protocol for water reporting.
Ford’s commitment to water reporting builds on its leadership in greenhouse gas reporting. Ford has reported to the CDP on its successful efforts to reduce its carbon footprint since 2003. During the same period, Ford cut energy use at its global facilities by 34 percent and CO2 emissions by 44 percent. Going forward, Ford has set a goal to reduce new-vehicle greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and Europe by 30 percent by 2020, compared to a 2006 model year baseline.
Ford launched its own voluntary Global Water Management Initiative in 2000, which included water conservation, reuse of storm and process water, and management of water quality. From 2000 to 2008, Ford cut its global water use by 56 percent, or 9.5 billion gallons.
Ford facilities have achieved reductions in water consumption through a broad range of actions, including tracking and minimizing water use during plant downtimes, optimizing cooling tower operations, and investing in advanced technologies. For example, the Chihuahua Engine Plant in Mexico uses a reverse osmosis process to recycle water for use in production processes, thus avoiding the need to use higher quality water that is suitable for human consumption.
In 2008, Ford’s engine plants began implementing an innovative parts washing system that reduces wastewater generation by 95 percent compared to previous systems, while also cutting energy consumption by approximately 60 percent. Ford also developed a new process at its Dearborn Engine Plant’s wastewater treatment plant that reduces the volume of wastewater from 3 million gallons per month to less than 750,000 gallons per month.
The company is also pursuing new technologies such as Minimum Quantity Lubrication, which lubricates cutting tools with a fine spray of oil. Conventional wet machining, by contrast, requires pumping millions of gallons of a mixture of metal-working fluids and water to cool and lubricate the cutting tools.
“We recognize that these environmental issues are increasingly important to our stakeholders, including our customers, investors and business partners,” said Cischke. “Water conservation and greenhouse gas reduction are integral to Ford’s global sustainability strategy. By reporting on them, we support positive social change and reduce the environmental impact of our facilities.”
Increased disclosure key to managing water resources
Water scarcity is becoming an increasingly important strategic issue for global businesses. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecasts that 47 percent of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030 unless new policies are introduced.
According to the CDP, it is through water that the impacts of climate change are most likely to be felt, with changing patterns of precipitation and water runoff affecting the supply of this critical resource. At the same time, population growth, urbanization and rising per capita consumption are expected to result in rapidly increasing demands for water.
“Water-related issues will continue to have significant impacts on businesses and much of the impact of climate change will be felt through water scarcity,” said Paul Dickinson, Carbon Disclosure Project CEO. “The CDP system, which has provided key climate change data for the last eight years, can now provide the same system to highlight how companies are planning to operate in a water-constrained world.”