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Ford's Rouge Plant gets landfill-free status

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

After two years of hard work and planning, the historical Ford Rouge Centre has achieved true landfill-free status. It is the company’s largest complex to send zero waste to landfill.

"It’s an incredible achievement," said Gary Johnson, Ford North America manufacturing vice president. "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."

When a facility is given landfill-free status, it means absolutely no manufacturing waste from the facility goes to any landfills. The centre 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. This is the latest sustainability achievement in the Ford Rouge Centre’s storied history.

"Since 2004, the historical Ford Rouge Centre has served as the model of 21st century sustainable manufacturing," said Johnson. "Two years ago we instituted a closed-loop recycling system, where we recycle up to 20 million pounds of aluminium 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."

The six facilities at the Ford Rouge Centre 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.

Ford’s sustainability efforts are not only good for the environment; they make good business sense. The company is improving recycling and energy recovery efforts and is identifying waste streams it can avoid bringing into facilities in the first place.

"Our global waste strategy commits Ford to reducing waste-to-landfill, and we have made great progress in our facilities around the world," said Andy Hobbs, Ford Motor Company director, Environmental Quality Office. "We are proud of the efforts of our employees worldwide in their commitment to helping Ford reduce its global environmental footprint, and especially pleased with this achievement at our iconic Ford Rouge Centre."

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