BMW Is Driven to Cut CO2 Emissions and Rely on Recycled Parts

by | Sep 20, 2022

BMW is a German carmaker, and it manufactures performance luxury vehicles. It is headquartered in Munich and was founded in 1916. BMW has been named one of the most sustainable automotive companies by the Supersector. Its efforts started as early as 1995 — and involved everything from reducing CO2 emissions to buying more renewable energy to selling more green cars. By 2025, it says that electric vehicles will comprise 30% of its sales, and by 2030, they will be 50%. It is also investing in cars with hydrogen fuel cells — vehicles that take just a few minutes to fill up and that don’t drain because of cold weather. The goal is to mass-produce hydrogen fuel cell cars by 2030. At the same time, BMW is designing a vehicle that is built with recycled parts — part of the I Vision project, which it expects to come to fruition in 2040.

Between 1995 and 2020, the company says it reduced its CO2 emissions by 53%. Also, in 2020, all the electricity it purchased to run its plants worldwide came from renewables. The aim is to cut its CO2 levels by 40% by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050.

 “Taking actions against climate change is one of our top business priorities, and we are change agents to drive green transformation across our entire value chain, from production to supply chain, logistics, and dealer management,” Franz Decker, chief executive of BMW Brilliance Automotive, in the company’s sustainability report. The central theme: sustainability is at the heart of the company’s mission — from sourcing raw materials to producing cars to driving automobiles before recycling their used parts.

The journey:

  • The company will reduce greenhouse gas emissions using science-based principles.
  • BMW will bring 7 million electrified vehicles to market, including vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells.
  • The CO2 emissions for each vehicle sold will get cut by at least one-third over the car’s entire life cycle.
  • CO2 emissions BMW’s productions will be cut too — by 80%, globally.
  • Cars will have recyclable parts — part of the company’s commitment to the circular economy.
  • BMW will work to ensure its supply chain is also sustainable. The chain does not begin with production at the BMW Group factory but rather with sourcing raw materials. BMW intends to use only materials produced using regenerative electricity sources, it says.

How will BMW achieve its climate goals? 

The focus will be on the utilization phase of the vehicles — where BMW incurs 70% of its CO2 emissions. By 2030, these levels will be cut by half from a 2019 baseline. It also says that BMW will reduce CO2 levels by 40% per vehicle during this time.

Between 2017 and 2021, it says that CO2 emissions per car fell by 5.7%. Between 2006 and 2020, that figure is 78%. CO2 levels have fallen by 70% per vehicle since 2006. Its goal is to drive that down to 80% by 2030, from a 2019 baseline. It says that by 2030 carbon emissions are expected to have dropped by 90 % compared with 2006 levels.

“With emissions of around 116 grams per kilometer, according to WLTP, the company outperformed the fleet target limit of approx. 126 grams per kilometer by around ten grams in the EU, based on its own internal calculations. The key drivers for fulfilling the fleet target were significantly higher sales of electrified vehicles in Europe and further increases in efficiency for conventional drive technologies,” the sustainability statement says.

Investing in energy efficiency in its operations is a priority. It uses hydrogen, biogas, biomass, and geothermal energy. It is also reducing the demand for energy by capturing waste heat from its industrial processes and reusing it. Data analytics gives the company a holistic view of its operations, allowing it to cut electricity consumption through intelligent controls.

Tell us about BMW’s goal of becoming circular. 

Humans consume more than 100 billion tons of raw materials annually — minerals that are incredibly costly to process. Moreover, it is expensive and dirty to do so. That’s why BMW says its goal is to reuse raw materials, which is cheaper than digging them out of the ground and processing them. Its I Vision circular project aims to build cars with 100% recyclable parts. Today, those BMW vehicles have 30% secondary parts. The immediate aim is to get to 50% — a goal set in 2021.

Indeed, the recovery of valuable materials is critical. In 30 countries, BMW says it has 3,000 “take-back” locations.

“The BMW Group aims to obtain high-quality secondary materials through promoting a greater degree of transparency in the recycling chain and simultaneously tracing the reuse of (secondary) raw materials within the cycle,” it says. “The use of secondary materials again significantly reduces carbon emissions in comparison to primary materials – by as much as 80 % in the case of aluminum, for example.”

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