The BMW Group commitment to sustainability extends across many business areas and goes far beyond minimising carbon footprints. Below are selected examples of how the BMW Group assumes environmental responsibility in many areas.
Renewable raw materials
The BMW i3 has been designed for maximum resource conservation. In the interior, for example, petroleum-based plastics have been replaced by large-scale use of kenaf. Kenaf lowers weight. Moreover, it is a plant-based material made from a type of mallow. The eucalyptus wood used for the interior trim is sourced from FSC®-certified plantations, ensuring sustainable forestry practices.
Even after completion of their demanding service in the vehicle, batteries can still be put to use. In many cases, they still have sufficient capacity to serve as temporary storage units. As part of a joint “Battery2ndLife” project with power supplier Vattenfall in Hamburg, Germany, for example, batteries from the i3 are used in a stationary energy storage unit. This uses linked lithium-ion batteries. In their second life, they store energy for short periods and then feed it back into the grid, in order to stabilise the North German grid as part of the energy revolution. This means that the battery can still be used for another decade as a stationary storage unit or mobile charging station.
Sensible battery recycling
Batteries are only recycled after about twenty years of use. The BMW Group has been developing sophisticated recycling techniques to this end for years. The goal is a battery recycling rate of over 90 per cent. By designing batteries for the vehicle’s entire service life, subsequent second-life use and final recycling, BMW ensures optimal use of raw materials and thus a favourable carbon footprint. Second-life use is not even factored into today’s energy footprint calculation.
Intelligent management of the charging process
BMW i and grid operator TenneT are currently piloting a new, intelligent charging strategy. This is designed to manage the charging processes for electric vehicles in such a way that maximum use can be made of renewable energy, whose availability may vary, and grid stability is enhanced. This kind of charging management acts as an interface between the vehicle and the electricity grid and makes a huge contribution to the energy revolution. This is another example of ecological innovation from the BMW Group, which goes far beyond the mere sale of electrified vehicles.
Expansion of the fast-charging network
In order to make electric mobility suitable for long journeys, the BMW Group has initiated the IONITY joint venture. By 2020, there will be 400 fast-charging stations built and commissioned along the main European traffic routes.
Using ocean plastic
The dramatic increase in marine pollution, with tiny microplastic particles spreading across the world’s oceans, has been worrying conservationists for years. BMW i has proposed a number of different approaches for recycling microplastic elements from the oceans and using them in vehicle production, and is working on turning the recovery and industrial use of ocean plastic into a viable business model.
Safeguarding human rights in the supply chain
Cobalt is an important raw material for battery production. As a by-product of nickel and copper mining, it is only present in a small number of world regions. Safeguarding human rights and complying with environmental standards have long been basic requirements for the BMW Group. To exclude residual risks, the cobalt supply chain will be restructured from 2020. For the fifth BMW eDrive generation, the BMW Group will for the first time purchase two important raw materials, cobalt and lithium, itself. Cobalt will not be sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has time and again attracted negative headlines because of reports of uncontrolled child labour and extremely low wages. Instead, BMW will purchase raw material sourced from Australia and Morocco and produced in line with clearly defined standards