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New AIAG White Paper Demonstrates How Auto Industry Can Play A Vital Role In Addressing Global Water Challenges

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AIAG has released a new white paper, Automotive Water Benchmarking, to address water use by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), identify leading practices and areas for improvement, and recommend how to extend these practices to the automotive supply chain.

The white paper is available for free download at the AIAG Store.

Recognizing the importance of water in the automotive industry and the growing global water challenges, AIAG worked with six OEMs from September 2015 to October 2016, to complete a comprehensive North American benchmarking survey. The six participating OEMs — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, Honda North America, Inc., Nissan North America, Inc., and Toyota Motor North America, Inc. — are kept anonymous in the analysis of the survey.

“Due to droughts, floods, and pollution, water scarcity is one of the biggest challenges we face on a global level. The OEMs have been reducing their water within their manufacturing facilities and were interested in benchmarking their competitors and sharing best practices,” says Lecedra Welch, program manager of environmental sustainability for AIAG.

The survey identified 135 aspects to benchmark for North American facilities. From the benchmarks, a variety of leading practices were compiled on the topics of targets, water responsibilities, assessments, metering, water reduction efforts, alternative water sources, paint process water, and sustainability.

The study reveals that given the water-intensive nature of the automotive industry and its supply chain, OEMs can play a vital role in good stewardship of natural resources. Water scarcity is a rapidly growing global concern. According to UNICEF and the World Health Organization, more than 2.8 billion people currently live in water-stressed areas, 1.8 billion lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.4 billion lack access to improved sanitation. Although most of the life-cycle water use from automotive manufacturing comes from the supply chain, OEMs have public water goals to reduce their global water intensity and become more efficient.

Moving forward, the white paper concludes, it is highly recommended that automakers and suppliers implement as many leading practices as possible into their facilities and look for even more ways to save water. Furthermore, automakers should look for ways to encourage their suppliers to further reduce water consumption. Through a combined effort, even more water can be saved to help address the global scarcity problem.

The AIAG Water Benchmarking Work Group gratefully acknowledges the hard work of Al Hildreth, global energy manager at General Motors, who first envisioned the survey, and Erin Lawrence, an associate energy engineer at General Motors, who compiled the data and drafted the white paper. Additional project team members who provided data and contributed to the white paper include Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, Honda North America, Inc., Nissan North America, Inc., and Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

For more information about AIAG’s activities and initiatives in corporate responsibility, visit www.aiag.org or contact Lecedra Welch at lwelch@aiag.org.