Using more secondary materials will require a new way of designing vehicles
BMW working to move from 30 percent recycled now to half soon
BMW has announced it is working on increasing what it calls a circular economy in order to lower the company’s carbon footprint. This means working with suppliers and changing manufacturing processes in order to reduce the emissions that come from making and then later disposing of the vehicle, not just those that come from the tailpipe.
“How companies are dealing with CO2 emissions has become a major factor when it comes to judging corporate action. The decisive factor in the fight against global warming is how strongly we can improve the carbon footprint of vehicles over their entire life span. This is why we are setting ourselves transparent and ambitious goals for the substantial reduction of CO2 emissions,” said BMW Chair Oliver Zipse.
A circular economy means more recycling. It also means using more recycled components in its vehicles. BMW says that by using recycled aluminum it can cut CO2 by a factor of four to six, while the same for steel and plastics is between two and five.
The automaker is already using secondary nickel for as much as 50 percent of its battery requirements. The battery housing’s aluminum is as much as 30 percent secondary material, and it is working to boost those figures.
Overall, current BMWs are approximately 30 percent recycled and reusable materials. With their new “Secondary First” approach, BMW says it plans to raise this to half. BMW says that this reduces carbon footprint, but adds that it is also the most efficient way to reduce mining and trading of conflict materials.
On the practical side, this means serious changes to the cars to make recycling easier. BMW says that onboard wiring needs to be easily removed to keep copper and steel separate, for example, for the sake of both raw materials. Even recycled steel with too much copper in it is useless for automotive purposes.
BMW also says that it will need to use fewer materials in each vehicle, again to make sure more of it can be recycled more easily. The automaker said that current vehicles have 8,000 to 10,000 different materials in each.
It will, of course, come with a concept car. The BMW i Vision Circular will be entirely secondary materials or renewable raw materials and is 100 percent recyclable. The car will be revealed at the IAA next week.