As a leading global automaker, Ford seeks to understand all the impacts its products and services have, so that it can manage them more effectively. To achieve this, Ford looks at them holistically, over their entire life cycle, to be better able to reduce its environmental footprint –including automobiles’ end-of-life impacts.
This case study is based on the 2017/18 Sustainability Report by Ford published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.
Automobiles are some of the most highly recycled consumer products in the world, and most of the materials they contain can be recovered at the end of their useful lives. Ford tries to achieve the highest level of economically and environmentally viable recovery of vehicles Tweet This! through the careful selection of materials, and by sharing information about the materials its vehicles contain with dismantlers. In order to reduce vehicles’ end-of-life environmental impacts Ford took action to:
- implement take-back schemes
- apply alternative end-of-life treatments
- promote recycling
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With this case study you will see:
- Which are the most important impacts (material issues) Ford has identified;
- How Ford proceeded with stakeholder engagement, and
- What actions were taken by Ford to reduce vehicles’ end-of-life environmental impacts
What are the material issues the company has identified?
In its 2017/18 Sustainability Report Ford identified a range of material issues, such as product carbon footprint and fuel economy, supply chain management, assessment, capacity building and performance, ethical business practices, human rights, customer satisfaction, product quality and safety. Among these, reducing vehicles’ end-of-life environmental impacts stands out as a key material issue for Ford.
Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:
Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.
Key stakeholder groups Ford engages with:
|Stakeholder Group||Method of engagement|
|Communities||· Community Relations Committees
· Interactions with governments
· Membership of associations
· Dialogue with nongovernmental organisations
· Ford Fund
· Driving Skills for Life programme
|Customers||· Consumer Insight process
· Market research
· Customer care programmes
· Dealer interactions
· Ford.com website
· Ford Owners magazine
|Dealers||· Intranet communications
· Brand sales and service representatives
· Brand Dealer Councils
· Dealer roundtables
· President’s Circle
· Salute to Dealers
· Advertising and public service announcements
· U.S. NADA Dealer Attitude Survey
|· Intranet site
· Sustainability Report and executive summary
· Social media applications
· Union representatives
· Joint labour–management committees
· Webcasts, videos, blogs and executive Q&A sessions with senior management
· “Town Hall” meetings
· Employee surveys
· Employee Resource Group initiatives
· Test drive and product reveal events
|Investors||· Investment community forums
· Quarterly earnings communications
· Annual shareholders’ meeting
· Annual report
· Proxy statement
· SEC filings (e.g., 10-K, 10-Q, 8-K)
· Ratings and rankings
|Suppliers||· Top Supplier meetings
· Ford Partnership for a Cleaner Environment (PACE)
· Aligned Business Framework supplier dialogue sessions
· Supplier quality roundtables
· Supplier Diversity Development Networking
· External supplier organisations
· Coalitions including EICC
How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues
To identify and prioritise material topics Ford engaged with both internal and external stakeholders through interviews, inviting stakeholders to comment on material topics and rate them according to importance.
In its 2017/18 Sustainability Report Ford reports that it took the following actions for reducing vehicles’ end-of-life environmental impacts:
- Implementing take-back schemes
- Across Europe, Ford offers car owners a cost-free take-back network, with take-back points that meet Ford’s waste-quality standards. The recycling network is set by each European market and licensed by the appropriate national environment agency. As part of this procedure, Ford’s Environmental Quality Office and End-of-Life teams perform a structured duty-of-care audit process, visiting take-back points to make sure Ford’s vehicles are treated responsibly at the end of their useful life, and keeping the latest end-of-life network information available on Ford National EU web portals.
- Applying alternative end-of-life treatments
- None of Ford’s current components contain mercury, but to address end-of-life issues associated with mercury in older vehicles, Ford was instrumental in getting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to work with state authorities, dismantlers, steelmakers and environmental groups to recycle mercury switches. With over 10,000 participants in the scheme, 7 metric tons of mercury were recovered by the end of 2017. Ford also supports treatment technologies that make the recycling of end-of-life vehicles more economically and ecologically viable, and co-sponsored a life cycle assessment that showed the environmental benefits of diverting plastic, foam and other nonmetallic materials from landfill and using them for energy recovery.
- Promoting recycling
- At its U.S. dealership service centres Ford recycles, reuses and reprocesses the parts removed during servicing, such as headlights, bumpers and windshield-wiper motors. Dealers are charged for new parts, but are reimbursed if they are recycled through Ford’s Core Recovery Programme. Parts that can be remanufactured are cleaned, machined and tested before being used in new vehicles; otherwise, they are used to make new parts. The scheme forms part of Ford’s voluntary Go Green Dealer Sustainability Programme, to which approximately half of Ford’s U.S. Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers belong.
Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?
The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 301-3 Reclaimed products and their packaging materials
Disclosure 301-3 Reclaimed products and their packaging materials corresponds to:
- Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
- Business theme: Resource efficiency of products and services
- Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Business theme: Resource efficiency of products and services
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1) This case study is based on published information by Ford, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:
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