Ford Motor Company and its idea of sustainability

Sep 13, 2016 | written by:

Among the first to be described there was definitely Volvo with its campaign #DrivingDirty; among the last the American Mars Incorporated. In the middle, however, there have been many other companies like Avene, Ikea, as well as the interview with Stefano Zamagni, Professor of Economics at the University of Bologna, in the Harvard Business Review to explain what is CSR and why companies who practice it will benefit not only in terms of image, but also in terms of budget. Today, we want to add to the list also the Ford Motor Company, even if… it’s not new. It was February when the multinational company launched the Ford Design Challenge in which ten young designers were tasked to create high-fashion clothing with sustainable fabrics made from old Ford car seats.

Sustainability in Ford is present in all the fields in which the company works, also because its founder Henry was an environmentalist and at the beginning of the 20th century, when company was newly established, his aim was already to keep goods prices low through the reduction of processing times, introducing the supply chain. Today, over 100 years later, the sustainability transactions involving the supply chain globally are managed by Mary Wroten, mechanical engineer, who carries $100 billion of efforts to address the critical challenges, including rights human and working conditions, water scarcity mitigation and reduction of carbon emissions among suppliers worldwide.

In particular they are water and the supply chain to be high on the company’s agenda. For the first one, since 2009, Ford has reduced the amount of water used to produce each vehicle by 30%. For the second one, the implementation is based on the believe that sharing best practices and toolkits with suppliers so that together, they can all reduce the overall environmental footprint. “If a region runs out of water in the next five years, the cost of water in that area will skyrocket”, says Wroten. "If one of our suppliers located there has high water-usage operations and doesn’t have the means or the knowledge to reduce their water footprint, they'll just pass on the cost to the customer – which will be Ford”.

Thus, to deal with this potential problem, in 2014 Ford launched the PACE System (Partnership for a Cleaner Environment) in order to share Ford’s best practices in energy and water savings and waste reduction among all the suppliers (1,200 production suppliers and 11,000 indirect suppliers). This enables suppliers who do not have technical expertise in these areas, or who simply do not know where to start, to reduce their environmental impact. Suppliers must only report what practices are implementing in their facilities and the percentage of intensity to measure improvements.

Next goals? Expanding the program’s focus from energy and water to also work on air and waste issues. For sure, Ford runs, runs as its cars always have done, in the right direction.

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