A Shining Example of Automotive Sustainability
As Henry Ford watched the steel frame of a new stamping plant rise in Dearborn, Mich., in the late 1930s, little did he know that someday the same steel would end up in company products.
In 2012, Walbridge demolished large sections of Ford’s massive stamping facility. Huge stamping equipment was removed. Steel plating was cut away from floors and stacked in large piles. Steel trusses and pieces of the roof were removed and collected.
The steel was transported to a recycler, who stripped it of any paint, dirt or debris. Once processed, the material was sold to steel mills. Those mills – operated by Severstal, Nucor Steel and Great Lakes Steel – then converted it into new rolled sheet steel and sold it to auto manufacturers, including Ford Motor Company. Ford then stamped the steel into doors and body panels to be used in the assembly of new vehicles.
By the end of 2012, more than 9,400 tons of steel and nearly 60 tons of copper had been recycled on the project. These products were once considered construction “waste” and used to be hauled away to landfills for disposal.
But today, Walbridge envisions how to separate these materials in advance and then integrates recycling activities into the operations.
The stamping plant was a premier production facility at Ford’s Rouge complex since 1939, according to Todd Harris, Ford Land Senior Project Manager. Once modernized, the plant will again produce vehicle parts for Ford.
“We’ve taken over 114 million pounds of steel out of the building, including structural members and old production equipment, and put them back into the recycle stream,” Harris said.
“On a project like this, it’s important that we bring in a partner like Walbridge early on. We need to resolve how to get all of the materials out of a building, especially what we’re going to re-use, and get them into a recycling program. We work to minimize any materials that would have to go to a landfill. We put no steel, aluminum or copper into landfills from this project.”