Sustainable Management for Ford's Rouge Complex

Supporting ford’s zero waste to landfill initiative at 16 million square foot rouge complex

The challenge

Veolia was challenged by Ford to increase the facility’s sustainability through a zero waste to landfill (ZWTLF) initiative that required substantial waste equipment and process changes.
To help Ford reach their ZWTLF initiative, Veolia was challenged to implement and manage substantial waste equipment and process changes to the complex.


The client’s challenges are:

  • Ford Rouge includes six facilities covering 16 million square feet of production space, and is home to approximately 7,000 Ford employees.
  • Each facility inside the complex has a unique manufacturing process and related waste streams. Some of the largest waste streams that had previously been designated for landfill disposal were wastewater treatment sludge, open-top dumpster waste, grinding wastes and street sweepings.

Veolia's solution

Innovative effective solutions:

  • To achieve Zero Landfill status for Ford Rouge, Veolia needed to build on its total waste management program already in place for Ford.
  • This included integrating new solutions to address the most difficult waste streams, adding additional equipment to some facilities and expanding sorting and transportation efficiencies to maximize recovery options.

Integrative strategies:

  • Working in close partnership with Ford's environmental team, a landfill diversion strategy was developed for each stream, with solutions including everything from investing in new equipment to adopting additional sorting processes to ensure materials meet requirements for local recycling outlets and waste-to-energy facilities.
  • In total, more than 8 million pounds of waste generated by the Rouge complex every year was reviewed and is now actively managed by Veolia's on site team for landfill diversion.

Client targets:

  • As the complex approached its 100 year anniversary, Ford made the strategic decision to invest in achieving Zero Waste to Landfill (ZWTLF) status.
  • The client also wanted smart environmental stewardship.

The benefits for our client

“The longstanding teamwork between Veolia’s team and Ford’s environmental engineers made achieving zero waste to landfill possible for the 16 million square foot manufacturing complex.”
- Daniel Esch, Veolia Account Manager


Guaranteed commitment:

  • With responsibility for managing virtually all waste streams at the Rouge complex, Veolia has 6 dedicated waste managers and 17 full time employees assigned to the Rouge.
  • They are collectively responsible for waste management activities, including moving waste, sorting and shipping recyclables, loading containers for off-site shipment, managing the drum pad and drummed waste, and packaging wastes for shipment.
  • Veolia's team also provides Ford with all the waste tracking and continuous improvement data it requires for its environmental reporting requirements.

Communication management:

  • One of the key challenges of the project was managing communication between Ford, the contract manager, waste managers and other vendors to ensure that everyone was on the same page to push forward the implementation.
  • Veolia helped Ford overcome this by holding multiple weekly meetings to ensure that all necessary information was being passed to each party.

Additional support to achieve goals:

  • Financial and logistical constraints were also mitigated by working in partnership with Ford to push for zero landfill status, which required additional investment on Ford's part to achieve.
  • Because smart environmental stewardship is strategically important to Ford, and Rouge is a showcase complex, they chose to invest in the additional resources required to achieve and maintain landfill free status at the Rouge.

Long-term benefits:

  • Since going landfill free on July 1, 2016, Ford has enjoyed an abundance of positive media and social attention related to diverting more than 8 million pounds of waste annually from landfills.
  • Veolia's participation in helping Ford achieve zero waste to landfill has been recognized both publicly and within the Ford Motor Company as a finalist in the Ford 2016 Environmental Leadership award program.