Eliminating Undesirable Materials

For more than 20 years, our Restricted Substance Management Standard has spelled out materials to be avoided or eliminated in Ford operations and in the parts and materials provided by suppliers. This and other materials management tools are helping us to meet and exceed customer expectations and ensure compliance with regulations.

Eliminating Mercury

Ford has decreased the use of mercury-containing components, which can pose problems at the end of a vehicle’s life. In 2001, we eliminated mercury-containing switches, which accounted for more than 99 percent of the mercury used in our U.S. vehicles. Since that time, we have continued to focus on mercury reduction, eliminating mercury in navigation system screens and family entertainment system screens and reducing the use of mercury in high-intensity discharge headlamps. As of 2010, all Ford and Lincoln vehicles in the U.S. are mercury-free, with the exception of the Lincoln Town Car, which uses mercury in its high-intensity discharge headlamps.

In addition, we helped to forge a collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states, auto dismantlers, auto scrap recyclers, steelmakers and environmental groups to recycle mercury switches from end-of-life vehicles. This effort was rolled out across the U.S. in 2007 and now has more than 9,250 participants joining the effort from the recycling industry. By the end of 2009, more than 3.5 tons of mercury from these switches had been recovered. An online database tracks the number of participants in the program as well as the number of switches collected by state.

In Europe, an EU End-of-Life Vehicle directive and a Battery directive prohibit the use of the heavy metals lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and mercury, with limited exceptions. These regulations also include broad manufacturer responsibility for disposing of vehicle parts and substances, including taking vehicles back without charge for disposal and recycling requirements. This legislation has triggered similar regulatory actions around the globe, including, for example, in China and Korea and possibly in India in the near future. Ford is complying with all of these regulations.

Eliminating Chromium and Lead

Hexavalent chromium – “hex chrome” for short – is a corrosion coating (used, for example, on nuts, bolts and brackets in cars and trucks) that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists as a potential lung carcinogen. We did not wait for global regulations banning the use of hex chrome to take effect: we phased out its use worldwide. By 2007, Ford eliminated all hex chrome-containing parts in Europe and North America. Replacement coatings have been thoroughly tested to ensure that they meet Ford’s performance requirements.

In North America, Ford has also completed the transition away from lead wheel weights. In addition, Ford’s Customer Service Division no longer offers lead wheel weights for sale to dealers, offering steel wheel weights instead.

Ford has joined the EPA and other stakeholders in a commitment to reduce the use of lead in wheel weights through participation in the National Lead-Free Wheel Weight Initiative. Through this initiative, Ford has shared its experience with lead wheel weight phase-out with aftermarket wheel balancers, and encourages all stakeholders to discontinue the use of lead in wheel weights.

In mid-2003, Ford of Europe phased out lead in valve seats in all new vehicle models approved for launch in the European Union. Also in Europe, we phased out the use of lead wheel weights and reduced the lead content in aluminum in new and serviced vehicles in mid-2005, and phased out lead in pyrotechnic initiators by mid-2006. We further reduced the lead content in aluminum in 2008. A study by the Oeko-Institute in Germany calculated that, between 2000 and 2005, lifecycle emissions from lead had been reduced by 99.6 percent, from hexavalent chromium by 99.99 percent and from cadmium by 96 percent in Europe.

Reducing Undesirable Chemicals

Ford is one of the first automotive companies to begin efforts to reduce a range of undesirable chemicals that are monitored by the EU, U.S. and Canadian governments. These chemicals include hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD), a chemical that has been identified as a substance of concern under the European Union’s REACH regulations (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restriction of Chemicals). Ford is also working to reduce decabromodiphenyl ether (Deca-BDE), another substance of concern that the EPA has proposed to regulate. Ford is working to eliminate these substances ahead of the timelines defined by governmental regulations by working with suppliers to develop new and “greener” alternative materials that will make our products more environmentally friendly.

More and more countries are adopting chemical and substance of concern regulations like REACH. Turkey and Romania adopted their own versions of REACH in 2009; China adopted its own version in October 2010. South Korea and Japan will soon adopt REACH-like regulations to manage their chemicals. In the U.S., the federal Senate and House both proposed bills in 2010 to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act. The state of California is planning to promulgate regulations implementing a Green Chemistry law in 2011. And in January 2009, the UN implemented regulations requiring a globally harmonized system of classification and labeling of chemicals.

Regulatory requirements for the phase out of undesirable chemicals need to be prioritized and implemented in a workable manner. Government and industry resource constraints mean that not all chemicals of concern can be addressed at once. Moreover, manufacturers and suppliers need adequate lead-time to identify replacement substances that are more environmentally friendly than the ones they replace, and also to design and engineer components that incorporate these new substances. Ford will continue to work with regulatory agencies to help develop rules that target the highest-priority chemicals first, and that drive steady progress toward the elimination of chemicals of concern in an effective and efficient manner.

For more on Ford’s efforts to manage materials and chemicals please see the Materials Management section.