Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Mich., recently became the only automotive company to certify its 73 North American plants under ISO (International Standard Organization) 14001. This stringent environmental code calls for independent auditors to evaluate the company's management system based on its environmental policies.
For the past few years, Ford has launched several projects to reach certification status by reducing incoming disposable packaging by 163 million pounds over the last two years, using containers made of recycled materials instead of cardboard and plywood, recycling and reducing paint sludge, and training its employees in environmental processes.
At Ford's truck plant in Wayne, Mich., the evaluation saved the company $66,000 per year in energy costs, as almost 2,000 metal halide light bulbs replaced fluorescent bulbs.
Terry Whitehouse, a Ford environmental engineer, says the certification has changed environmental management philosophies at the Atlanta plant where he works.
"This system has made employees at all levels environmentally knowledgeable and responsible within the work setting," he says. "Having more [trained] eyes makes the Atlanta assembly plant more proactive in assuring environmental compliance."
As part of the company's clean vehicle technology, some Ford vehicles have been classified as low-emission vehicles (LEVs) beginning this year, meaning they emit fewer smog-forming hydrocarbon emissions than many state's standards.
Ford also employs what it calls a Total Waste Management System that provides monetary incentives to suppliers for reducing waste.
The other 67 Ford plants operating in 25 countries are expected to be certified by the end of the year.