The BMW Group takes responsibility for its supply chain and is engaged in four local projects to fight against child labour and for environmental protection, biodiversity and better living conditions.
The BMW Group’s efforts to create a responsible supply chain extend all the way to southeast Asia. In Indonesia, the company joined tyre manufacturer Pirelli in launching the “Living Rubber” initiative, which advocates for long-term deforestation-free production of natural rubber. The initiative is coordinated by BirdLife International, a non-governmental organisation committed to the preservation of global biodiversity, habitats and bird species. “Living Rubber” spans part of the Hutan Harapan rainforest on the island of Sumatra, which is home to around 1,350 different animal species, and targets measures to preserve the natural ecosystem and protect the endangered species of the tropical rainforest. The initiative also aims to improve quality of life for the indigenous population, by protecting farmers’ land rights and promoting women’s rights.
A further objective is to connect producers of natural rubber to the Pirelli supply chain. This is an important requirement for enabling natural rubber from the project to also be used for BMW tyres in the medium term. In this context, Pirelli developed and produced the first tyre certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for the new BMW X5 Plug-in-Hybrid – making the BMW Group the first automotive manufacturer worldwide to fit its vehicles with FSC-certified tyres.
Project to reduce child labour in 20 Indian villages
Heat-resistant and voltage-proof, with a high insulating capability, mica is an important all-round material for the automotive industry that is used in paints and housings for high-voltage batteries, as well as for heat protection and insulation, among others. To improve living conditions in the mica mining regions of India, the BMW Group is working with the renowned Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).
KSCF’s “Bal Mitra Gram” (“Child-Friendly Village”) is an internationally recognised model for child-centred rural development. The project, set up to run for several years, enables children to attend school and, by ensuring regular access to education, makes an important contribution to ending child labour. At the same time, KSCF is raising awareness of problematic issues, such as forced labour and violence against children, which it brings to the attention of political and social institutions. The BMW Group is helping the project implement this model in 20 villages in the states of Jharkhand and Bihar, known as the “mica belt”.
Initiative for greater protection in Congo’s mines
The DR Congo is home to the majority of the world’s cobalt production and reserves. Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) accounts for up to 20% of Congolese cobalt production and is a primary source of income for the region despite the major risks involved.
Through the Cobalt for Development (C4D) the BMW Group, in conjunction with a cross-industry partnership, initiated a novel approach that intends to improve the working and living conditions of artisanal miners, their families, and surrounding communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with a long-term and sustainable perspective. Cobalt for Development continues to successfully implement activities to address the root causes of child labour, by improving the livelihoods of the surrounding communities, having already reached 3,000 direct beneficiaries. C4D commitment in the project community of Kisoto led to a 25-percent increase in school attendance last year and construction of a new school building. 332 farmers received agricultural training, while 89 companies benefited from microloans.
Support is also provided for mining cooperatives and training in environmental and management systems. C4D was recently extended until mid-2025.
Chile: Responsible use of water in lithium mining
In 2022, the BMW Group joined the cross-sector project “Responsible Lithium Partnership”, whose members include BASF SE, Daimler Truck AG, FairPhone, Mercedes-Benz Group and Volkswagen Group to support the sustainable use of resources in Salar de Atacama. The GIZ has been commissioned to coordinate the partnership seeking to find common ground and create a multi-stakeholder platform (“Mesa Multiactor”). The evaporite basins of northern Chile are home to 40 percent of the world's known lithium reserves. This lightest of all metals is essential for production of high-voltage battery cells. Currently, 22 stakeholders from indigenous communities, local civil society, academia, local private sector, and Government, as well as local mining companies, are members and active participants in the “Mesa Multiactor”. The working group has already agreed on goals and a work plan and is currently working on concrete aspects of implementation. Specifically, the project looks for ways to use water resources responsibly and raise awareness of the value of water to the population of the Salar de Atacama.
The BMW Group supports the “Responsible Lithium Partnership” by sharing scientific findings on the effects of lithium mining on water resources in the region, for example. In late 2020, the company, together with BASF, engaged the University of Alaska and the University of Massachusetts to conduct a study aimed at gaining a better understanding of the interdependencies between freshwater and lithium brine layers.
The BMW Group wants to play its part in meeting the challenges of climate change and identifying solutions. The company is committed to creating a responsible supply chain, with a clear focus on sustainability and an emphasis on CO2 reduction, the circular economy and compliance with environmental and social standards in the supply chain, in keeping with the BMW Group’s claim: We turn things around.