“Sustainability At the Core of the Corporate Strategy”: BMW

Munich: The BMW Group remains committed to its ambitious sustainability goals and is consistently driving forward the company’s transformation with the aim of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Recycling raw materials in a circular economy sense is intended to achieve the best possible resource efficiency.

The BMW Group continues to adhere to its ambitious sustainability targets and will reduce its CO2 emissions by 40 per cent per vehicle by 2030 across the entire value chain compared to 2019. “We are consistently driving the issue of sustainability with our innovations,” says Thomas Becker, Head of Sustainability and Mobility at the BMW Group. “The current raw materials debate also validates our drive towards a circular economy. We want to make the best possible use of the raw materials in our end-of-life vehicles and recycle them in the production of new vehicles. We will continue to reduce CO2 emissions and conserve natural resources through maximum energy and raw material efficiency.” An average of almost 30 per cent of BMW Group vehicles are already made from recycled and reused materials today, so-called “secondary raw materials”. In the longer term, the “Secondary First” approach aims to increase this figure to 50 per cent.

The BMW Group is the first German car manufacturer to join the “Science Based Targets initiative” (SBTi) “Business Ambition for 1.5°C”. This means the company’s path to climate neutrality is following a scientifically validated and transparent path that is in line with the most ambitious target of the Paris Climate Agreement. At the same time, the company is committed to the goal of complete climate neutrality across the entire value chain no later than 2050.

"Sustainability At the Core of the Corporate Strategy": BMW

360-degree approach across the entire value chain

The BMW Group is consistently driving forward the electrification of its entire fleet. By 2030, at least one in two cars sold by the BMW Group is to be fully electric. The MINI and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars brands will offer only fully electric vehicles from the beginning of the 2030s. For example, the BMW Group aims to reduce CO2 emissions per vehicle in the use phase by 50 per cent by 2030 compared to 2019.

“However, sustainability means much more for the BMW Group than merely building and selling electrically powered vehicles,” says Thomas Becker. “Only a comprehensive sustainability approach from resource to recycling actually achieves a bottom-line reduction of CO2 emissions.” CO2 savings in the supply chain are becoming enormously important as e-mobility ramps up, especially in view of the energy-intensive production of high-voltage batteries. Nevertheless, the BMW Group aims to buck the trend by reducing CO2 emissions in the supply chain by 20 per cent by 2030, compared to 2019 values, and by as much as 80 per cent in production. The BMW Group’s global production network is already carbon net neutral thanks to selected offsetting initiatives.

Responsible sourcing of raw materials, conservation of natural resources

The BMW Group has set itself the goal of building the most sustainable supply chain in the entire automotive industry. The focus here is on reducing CO2 emissions, protecting natural resources and complying with environmental and social standards.

As e-mobility ramps up, the raw materials needed specifically for e-drive components now come under the spotlight. The design principle for the current-generation BMW eDrive electric motors eliminates the need to use rare earth materials in the rotor. The BMW Group is also taking its own approach to sourcing the raw materials needed to produce high-voltage batteries with the objective of achieving complete transparency in the origin and mining methods of the material: the company purchases lithium and cobalt directly and makes it available to battery cell manufacturers.

“Green steel” reduces CO2 emissions by up to 95 per cent

When it comes to reducing CO2 emissions in the supply chain, using electricity from renewable sources can achieve spectacular progress. The BMW Group has already entered into more than 400 contracts with its suppliers to use 100 per cent green electricity. This also includes aluminium suppliers as well as the producers of the battery cells, for example. The BMW Group has been sourcing aluminium from the United Arab Emirates since February 2021 using electricity generated from solar energy. From 2024 onwards, all cast aluminium wheels for the brands BMW and MINI will also be produced using only green electricity. Regeneratively generated energy is used both in the energy-intensive electrolysis when producing aluminium and when casting the wheels.

CO2 emissions are also being continuously reduced in the steel supply chain. From 2025 onwards, the BMW Group will purchase CO2-reduced steel that is produced not using fossil-based raw materials such as coal, but instead using natural gas or hydrogen and green electricity. This reduces CO2 emissions from making this steel by up to 95 per cent. The BMW Group will provide over 40 per cent of the demand at its European plants from this by 2030. This will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 400,000 tonnes per year.

"Sustainability At the Core of the Corporate Strategy": BMW

Circular economy as the key to more sustainability

The BMW Group is focusing on significantly increasing the proportion of secondary materials in its vehicles with a view to further reducing the depletion of raw materials and emissions. The BMW i Vision Circular has already demonstrated how consistently a car can be designed following the principles of the circular economy. As well as organic-based raw materials, it primarily uses materials that have already gone through a product life cycle and in turn have 100 per cent recyclability. The aim is to recycle raw materials from end-of-life vehicles as effectively as possible for the series production of new cars in the future.

The example set by the BMW i Vision Circular makes it clear that resource conservation begins with a vehicle’s design. This includes consistently reducing components, material groups and surface finishes. Instead of composite materials and adhesives, the BMW i Vision Circular primarily uses mono-materials as well as cords, buttons or quick-release fasteners, meaning that the individual components can be easily separated from one another and recycled according to type when they later come to be recycled.


Innovative recycling processes as the basis for effective circular economy

The BMW Group is also doing important groundwork around vehicle recycling on the road to a closed-loop economy. Up to 10,000 BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad vehicles are recycled each year at the BMW Group’s Recycling and Dismantling Centre (RDZ) in Unterschleißheim near Munich. They are dismantled in a standardised process that focuses on identifying reusable components as well as materials that are suitable for recycling. BMW Group designers and development engineers use the expertise gained by the RDZ to optimise the recyclability of new models right from the start. The findings are also being shared with our partners. The BMW Group played a key role in setting up the IDIS (International Dismantling Information System) platform. The data and findings published there are available to recyclers around the world.

The RDZ has also used innovative methods for many years to recycle high-voltage batteries from electrified vehicles. Processes have been developed in conjunction with partners from industry and science that can achieve a recycling rate of more than 90 per cent. The BMW Group has also shared this expertise to foster general progress in the field of battery recycling.

In China, the BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture has now for the first time established a closed cycle for reusing the raw materials nickel, lithium and cobalt from high-voltage batteries. The raw materials extracted are used in production of new battery cells for the BMW Group. The closed material cycle conserves the consumption of resources and reduces CO2 emissions by around 70 per cent compared to using newly mined primary material.

Sustainable production: less CO2, waste and water consumption

Circular economy principles also influence production processes. The BMW Group has established closed loops for steel and aluminium between its production sites and suppliers. As a result, around 70 per cent of the steel waste from the pressing plants and the aluminium residues are reused through a direct circular economy (the closed loop).

The BMW Group has reduced CO2 emissions attributable to vehicle production by more than 70 per cent since 2006. All plants in the international production network have been CO2-neutral since 2021. Alongside this, water consumption and waste generation have also been continuously reduced. For example, only around 580 grams of residual waste were produced per vehicle manufactured in 2021 at the BMW Group’s largest European plant in Dingolfing.

Energy efficiency, resource conservation and waste avoidance are being further improved at the BMW Group’s production sites with the transformation into an iFACTORY. The new BMW Group plant in the north-west of the Hungarian city of Debrecen, where our “Neue Klasse” models will be built from 2025 onwards, is a prime example of vehicle production that is consistently geared towards sustainability and the circular economy.

Responsibility for the environment

The 360-degree sustainability approach not only encompasses the entire value chain from resource extraction to production and recycling, but also all levels of sustainability with ecological, economic and social aspects.

The company supports initiatives such as the World Wildlife Fund For Nature’s (WWF) commitment to deep-sea mining as part of its efforts to promote responsible raw material extraction. The BMW Group is declining to use minerals from the deep sea, or to finance deep-sea mining, until the consequences of deep-sea mining on the ecosystems have been comprehensively investigated scientifically and adequate protection for the deep sea can be guaranteed.

Even though no cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo is used in the fifth-generation BMW eDrive high-voltage batteries, the BMW Group continues to be involved in a local project there. Together with partners, the company has commissioned the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) (German Society for International Cooperation) to develop measures to improve the working and living conditions of the micro-mining workers and the residents in the surrounding communities.

Responsibility towards the workforce and society

The BMW Group is also intensively fulfilling its responsibility towards its workforce in the current phase of transformation towards electromobility and digitalisation. The largest training initiative in the Group’s history is currently underway. The BMW Group invested around €389 million in 2021 in training and development for its employees. More than 75,000 attendees developed skills in these future fields, enabling them to help shape the transformation within the BMW Group.

The BMW Group positions itself as a reliable and credible employer when it comes to attracting talented and creative professionals; one that guarantees long-term sustainable jobs and attractive employee participation in the company’s success. Individual career development, support for social commitment and a consistent commitment to diversity and against discrimination also demonstrate how the BMW Group lives its social responsibility in practice both internally and externally.

The BMW Group, a company with a multinational workforce and locations on five continents, engages actively in society and stands by its responsibility as part of the bigger picture. Intercultural understanding, solid education for children and young people, and road safety are among the areas to which the company is committed.

The BMW Group also promotes initiatives by its employees. One current example of this is the “PowerUp” project run by two BMW Group young professionals. The idea: a powerful storage block consisting of six high-voltage batteries from former development vehicles stores solar energy from a photovoltaic system and supplies a school near the BMW Group plant in Rosslyn, South Africa. This can generate 36 kWh of clean electricity every day. Enough for about 38 computers, 100 light bulbs and a water pump. Thanks to the high-voltage batteries from Lohhof near Munich, not only does the school save on electricity costs, it also reduces its CO2 emissions by 40 tonnes a year.