On Dec. 8, 1998, Ford marked a major environmental milestone, when independent auditors certified it as the first and only automaker with all its plants—140 in 26 countries—to meet rigorous international ISO 14001 standards. Certification required world-class programs to significantly improve energy use, air pollution, water treatment, waste disposal and recycling.
As part of its total waste management system, Ford now gives cash incentives to suppliers who help reduce waste.
In one program, Ford requires vendors to deliver all parts and material to its 73 U.S. plants in reusable containers. In its first two years, this kept 163 million pounds of packaging materials out of landfills—enough to fill 120 football fields waist high.
In another program, Ford established new technology to recycle the paint sludge resulting from over-spray in paint booths. In its first three years at 10 U.S. plants, Ford recycled 17,052 tons of paint sludge that would otherwise have gone to landfills.
Ford’s worldwide ISO 14001 certification was celebrated four years ago today at the company’s Michigan Truck plant in Wayne, Mich. Under the certification, employees there and at other Ford plants were schooled in environmental practices and procedures, and encouraged to suggest improvements.
Employee suggestions at Michigan Truck has significantly reduced water and electrical use. Among them, a suggestion to replace 1,975 florescent bulbs with metal halide bulbs is saving the plant $66,000 a year in energy costs.
At the certification ceremony, former Ford executive Robert Transou said ISO 14001 was “a very challenging stretch, but we feel it’s important to be environmental leaders in the communities where we live and do business.”