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Direct Operations

We aim to conserve water and use it responsibly. Although the making of vehicles is not especially water intensive, we use water in many key manufacturing processes in our plants, including vehicle painting, and water is used at every point in our supply chain.

Water scarcity can have an appreciable impact on our manufacturing operations. Our water-related risks come not only from being a direct water user, but also from being a large purchaser of materials, parts and components that have used water in their manufacture.

We set a global manufacturing water-use-per-vehicle reduction goal of 30 percent by 2015, using a 2009 baseline. We have already achieved this goal – two years ahead of schedule. We will be updating our global manufacturing water strategy in 2014 and setting a new long-term target. Our target for 2014 is a reduction of 2 percent per vehicle produced from 2013. We will continue to reduce water impacts in our manufacturing plants worldwide by:

  • seeking opportunities for continuous improvement using methodologies such as water assessments;
  • evaluating and implementing innovative technologies to reduce water use and increase water recycling in manufacturing operations, where feasible, and incorporating consideration of water availability and risk in technology implementation;
  • ensuring all employees have access to potable water, sanitation and hygiene in our workplaces;
  • working with key local stakeholders in the communities in which we operate; and
  • meeting local quality standards or Ford global standards for wastewater discharge (whichever is more stringent).

In 2011, we built water reduction actions into our Environmental Operating System (EOS), which provides a globally standardized, streamlined approach to meeting all environmental requirements, including sustainability objectives and targets.

Gauging Our Strategy

As we worked to develop our corporate water strategy, we wanted to gain some independent, critical insight into our water stewardship activities and our related public disclosures. Enter the Ceres Aqua Gauge™, an Excel-based tool designed to help companies like ours assess water risk management approaches in areas ranging from policy development and data gathering to business planning and goal setting. Developed by Ceres, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Irbaris and the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute, the Aqua Gauge analyzed our activities to provide an outside view of how we were performing relative to leading practice.

The initial assessments helped us understand how we could be more transparent and gave us insight into how our water strategy was being viewed by investors, stakeholders and customers. We then used the assessment to help us zero in on areas for improvement and leadership.

For example, the assessment told us that we are doing many of the right things already but could do a better job of communicating our approach and results. The assessment also revealed that we could do more to improve the company’s extension of our water stewardship efforts into the supply chain.

After sharing the results with our senior executives, we now have a clearer understanding of how to improve our approach in 2014, where we stand, and where we need to go.

Read an external perspective from the director of Ceres’ Water Program and an article about our water workshop.

Vehicle Assembly Plant Water Use

Paint Processes 31
Cooling Blowdown 8
Irrigation 13
Domestic 13
Miscellaneous 1
Evaporation 35

Related links

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