Keywords: Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company, automobile industry, River Rouge, industrial conservation, recycling, waste reduction, automotive disassembly lines, extended producer responsibility, EPR, design for recycling, DFR, EOL products, end-of-life products, industrial ecology
Henry Ford, Industrial Conservationist? Take-back, waste reduction and recycling at the Rouge
Many of the ideas and practises of industrial ecology are not new. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the extensive waste reduction and recycling programmes implemented by Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company at the famous River Rouge complex during the 1920s and 1930s. Perhaps the most noteworthy of these programmes was an automobile disassembly line for end-of-life vehicles. Ford's efforts occurred in the larger context of the US 'industrial conservation' movement, which the company epitomised while at the same time standing apart from it. Although Ford's programmes were widely publicised, the company's aloofness and unique position, the idiosyncratic motives behind the programmes, and the arrival of the Great Depression, all worked against other companies emulating Ford's commitment.