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Innovative Recycling Helps Ford Rouge Center Go Landfill-Free

ford-rogue-center-landfill-freeFord has achieved zero waste at its six-facility Rouge Center, preventing more than 14 million pounds of waste from going to landfills annually.

The center, which houses 16-million-square-feet of factory space is the automaker’s largest complex to send zero waste to landfill. Globally, 74 Ford facilities are zero waste, which Ford defines as 100 percent of waste from the facility to landfills.

Gary Johnson, Ford North America manufacturing vice president, says the automaker implemented a number of innovative recycling initiatives at the Ford Rogue Center to achieve zero waste.

Two years ago the plant instituted a closed-loop recycling system, which recycles up to 20 million pounds of aluminum stamping scrap each month.

Diverting all of the waste generated was a tough task because the center houses six facilities. Ford environmental managers had to look at all of the waste streams at each plant to determine what could be done with the waste.

One difficult waste stream was 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.

In addition to achieving zero waste, the facility also has a large living roof, which reduces energy usage by keeping the plant warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Ford’s latest zero waste achievement follows several environmental sustainability announcements from the automaker in recent months, such as its new sustainable materials endeavors. Ford is developing new foam and plastic car components made from captured carbon dioxide and is working with Jose Cuervo to explore the use of the tequila producer’s agave plant byproduct to make a composite for its vehicles.

Ford has also announced plans to transform its 60-plus-year-old Dearborn campus into a high-tech, high-efficiency headquarters, renovating all facilities on both campuses to achieve at a minimum LEED Silver certification. All new construction is planned to meet LEED Gold certification standards.

Late last month Ford said that by 2020, it plans to have reduced its water usage per vehicle by 72 percent. This, the automaker says, will have saved more than 10 billion gallons of water since the turn of the millennium. It means that for every 1 gallon of water Ford used in manufacturing in 2000, it aims to use about 1 liter by 2020.

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