Ford’s Drive to be a Leader on Water Stewardship
At Ford Motor Company, water is an important element to the manufacturing process. For the automaker, it’s critical to numerous manufacturing steps, including vehicle painting, where large volumes of water are traditionally used to rinse cars, ensuring that not a speck of dust ruins that perfect paint job. Since 2000, Ford has had a strong track record of water use reductions in its manufacturing operations and an aggressive goal to reduce water use even further – by 30% per vehicle by 2015.
Ford has also assessed its global operations to identify facilities situated in areas of water stress, and is working to explore alternative water sources, prioritize investments based on local water scarcity and meet strict, often self imposed, wastewater discharge standards. The company also knows that access to clean water is a central concern to many of the communities where it operates, and in 2012 formally recognized that access to water is a human right, committing to respect and fulfill this right.
In order to gain an independent and critical view of the company’s water stewardship strategy and water-related public disclosures, Ford was assessed by Ceres and Irbaris in 2013 using the Ceres Aqua Gauge™ tool. Analyzing Ford’s activities using existing public disclosure, Ceres and Irbaris provided an outside analysis of how the company was 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,” said Thomas Niemann, Social Sustainability Manager at Ford.
Ceres and Irbaris subsequently worked alongside Ford’s water team comprising representatives from the Environmental Quality Office, Sustainability & Vehicle Environmental Matters, Research and Advanced Engineering, and Social Sustainability functions. The Aqua Gauge assessment helped the group to develop additional insights into the company’s activities, provide a benchmark against other sector leaders, and zero-in on areas for improvement and leadership.
“The Aqua Gauge assessment provided a powerful basis for Ford to take the next step in developing our global water strategy,” said Niemann. “After sharing the output with our senior executives, we have a clearer understanding of how to improve our approach in 2014, where we stand and where we need to go.”