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Ford is aiming to cut its use of the world’s most precious resource by using zero drinking water for vehicle manufacturing.
By 2020, the company aims to use 72% less water for each vehicle it manufactures – equivalent to a saving of more than 377-billion litres since conservation measures were introduced at the turn of the century.
“With many of our plants located in water-stressed regions around the globe, we’re focused on responsible water stewardship in our operations,” says company spokesman Bruce Hettle. “We aim to ensure a stable water supply for our facilities, while working with local communities to help ensure their needs are met.”
Of all the water on the planet, research has shown that less than one percent is available for human use – the remaining 99% comprises salt water in oceans, fresh water frozen in polar ice caps, or water inaccessible for practical use.
Ford has decreased its use of water by 61% since 2000. “We recognize that water is a critical resource, so we have established an aggressive 2020 target, building on our successful reduction efforts to date,” says Andrew Hobbs, director of the company’s environmental quality office.
“We are now exploring innovative ways to reduce our footprint, starting with our aspirational goal of zero potable water use in our manufacturing processes. From there, we have a final goal of zero water withdrawal for our manufacturing processes.”
Until now, Ford has achieved its reductions by implementing new technologies such as its three-wet paint process and minimum quantity lubrication – saving hundreds of thousands of litres of water a year.
It will continue to roll out real-time water metering using innovative technologies to aggressively manage water use. The company also conducts ongoing water assessments to determine where new water-saving processes can be implemented.
Ford set out to reduce water use in 2000 through its Global Water Management Initiative. The company’s strategy aligns with core elements of the CEO Water Mandate, a private-public initiative launched by the United Nations in 2007 and adopted by the company in 2014.
“Ford recognizes the human right to water,” says Kim Pittel, vice-president of sustainability, environment, & safety engineering. “Setting an aspirational goal of zero water withdrawal for its manufacturing processes and endorsing the CEO Water Mandate are all public demonstrations of this.
“We’ve not only moved to reduce water in our own facilities, but we are now sharing our leading practices for decreasing water use with our suppliers, and multiplying our impact.”