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Ford landfill free

Ford Sends Zero Waste to Landfill at NA Headquarter Facilities

Ford landfill freeFord’s North American headquarter facilities now send zero waste to landfill.

The automarker says the facilities — located in Dearborn, Michigan, Oakville, Ontario, and Santa Fe, Mexico — divert more than 240,000 pounds of waste from landfills annually. Ford has set a goal to trim global waste to landfill by 40 percent on a per vehicle basis between 2011 and 2016.

The push toward achieving landfill-free status began more than a year ago at each of the North American headquarters. Ford instructed its employees to separate waste and recycle when possible. In its other efforts to reduce waste produced per unit of production: in Mexico, food waste is used as compost; US and Canadian headquarters send refuse to waste-to-energy facilities. Additionally site managers utilized more environmentally sustainable packaging and food containers in cafeterias.

Jeffrey Czich, environmental engineer at Ford, says the automaker also partnered with waste management firms at each location to reduce its waste, working with Heritage Interactive Services in Dearborn, Veolia at its Canadian headquarters and GEN at its Santa Fe general office building. “We use the Global Emissions Manager (GEM) software program to track our waste management activities, including ZWTLF [zero waste to landfill] initiatives,” Czich says.

Ford won’t disclose any financial information about how much it cost to implement these waste management programs and achieve zero waste. The company also plays coy when asked how much money it expects to save from being landfill-free: “Ford pursues ZWTLF as an important component of being a green and sustainable company,” Czich says. “We measure the success to Ford and the environment by the amount of waste diverted from landfills. The reduction of future liabilities that result from landfilled wastes is an additional benefit resulting from ZWTLF initiatives.”

Other companies are more forthcoming about the financial benefits of achieving zero waste, including reduced transportation and waste hauling costs, less money spent on unnecessary packaging, and new revenue generated from recycling. Unilever North America, for example, which achieved 100 percent zero-waste-to-landfill at all dedicated distribution centers in North America last year, said zero waste resulted in cost savings of more than $1.9 million in 2013.

And fellow automaker General Motors has made progress in its efforts to become a zero waste manufacturer by turning byproducts such as polystyrene foam packaging into footwear. GM currently has 131 landfill-free sites globally and has set a goal to grow that number to 150 by 2020.

Ford is, however, willing to give advice and share its lessons learned with other companies that want to go landfill free. Czich offers the following tips:

  1. Obtain management support for your program.
  2. Establish a robust metrics program to track zero waste to landfill progress and implementation. This is key to the success of a zero waste to landfill program for both tracking and accountability.
  3. Partner with waste management suppliers to help you meet your objectives.
  4. Don’t try to find non-landfill management methods for all waste streams at once. Target the high volume waste streams first. Continue the process finding non-landfill management methods for the other waste streams until the facility is zero waste to landfill.
  5. Share your successes with all employees as a way to engage them in the zero waste to landfill process.
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5 thoughts on “Ford Sends Zero Waste to Landfill at NA Headquarter Facilities

  1. Whilst every effort to reduce waste to landfill should be applauded I wonder how serious Ford are when their waste reduction in Canada and the US focuses manly on sending refuse to waste-to-energy facilities.

    Seems their efforts are not as far sighted as GM who have made significant in-roads to diverting waste, not into a fuel to be burnt but into other useful products.

    Simply burning the waste one produces is hardly the real answer to a sustainable future.

  2. I’m a site manager tasked with getting a truck plant on the west coast to ZWTLF; my thoughts were the same as Richard’s regarding it is way to easy to simply take your MSW compactor to a WTE facility instead of the landfill. At my location, I opted to focus on recycling/reuse efforts first and have reduced the monthly tonnage to landfill from 35 tons down to 14 tons.

  3. It always amazes me the amount of misinformation that is circulated about ZWTLF! It is NOT always a cost saver. Frankly, it rarely is in the industrial space. GM pays a premium at most locations to be ZWTLF, and sends a significant amount of volume to WTE. Ford is also very active in diverting waste streams into beneficial reuse products in their automobiles. In addition, depressed commodity prices have substantially increased the premium to be ZWTLF. Although not communicated in the article, both Ford and GM (and FCA) are achieving their ZWTLF goals much in the same was as the truck plant manager on the West Coast.

  4. Sending trash to a WTE plan is NOT zero waste to landfill. When I toured a burn plant near our city, I learned that 25% of the incoming mass (10%, if measured by volume) is disposed at the adjacent landfill after the burn process.

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