In the “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group highlights the sustainable contribution made by a wide range of people in the company – and the motivation that inspires them. Today: Roberto Rossetti.
Sustainability has many facets at the BMW Group because we are using this term to harmonise business, the environment and society. If we are to successfully put these high standards into practice, we need our employees’ commitment. Everyone can play their part in making the BMW Group sustainable.
So, who are all these colleagues who make sustainability part of their everyday work? What drives them to roll up their sleeves throughout the company? In its “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group introduces employees who play their daily part in the broad and responsible further development of our company.
In this edition of our series, Roberto Rossetti (50), Total Vehicle Life Cycle Development, reveals how even the smallest initiatives and ideas lead to more sustainability.
Roberto Rossetti, complete vehicle development is a big field. What is your current focus?
Roberto Rossetti: At the moment, my main focus is on the life cycle analysis of CO2 emissions for the entire BMW Group – from buildings and production to each individual vehicle, each component and all the materials developed. Life cycle analysis is particularly effective for climate protection and reducing CO2. This is how we create transparency. Because every vehicle, every process, every building creates CO2 throughout its life cycle. The more precisely we know exactly where emissions occur, the better we can plan the savings. Many elements are involved in a company. We do not measure every value ourselves, but we bring everything together. The right material choices are similarly effective. Much lower CO2 emissions are created when producing recyclates, which in turn lowers the overall carbon footprint. We also pollute the environment less when we use fewer primary raw materials. Our goal is to be able to completely recycle all products at the end of their use. We can reuse recyclates, such as with industrial waste materials – metal offcuts, for example. In addition, we can obtain renewable raw materials from plants or biomass. Natural fibres made from flax are a hot topic. Or plant-based leather alternatives made from cork, cactus or mushrooms. We can also replace some of the plastics that are currently still made from petroleum, for example with plastic substitutes made from wood waste, which have an incredibly low CO2 footprint.
Life cycle analysis now has many aspects, materials offer seemingly endless options. What is your specific goal – what exactly do you want to achieve?
Rossetti: My goal is to create transparency across all CO2 emissions of the BMW Group. If we know how much CO2 is produced where, we know where we can make meaningful reductions. And if each individual addresses this in their function, everyone can also develop their own ideas to save CO2. When it comes to materials, I myself deal with sustainable materials. We conduct research in our own laboratories, work with start-ups and talk to representatives within the recycling industry. One non-negotiable is that our materials must always meet our own quality standards. Viewed from an interdisciplinary perspective, we can only shape the future by acting sustainably. The resources on our planet are finite and limited so at some point they will run out. If we want to keep the economy as we know it going, we have to move towards a circular economy in the long run, based on materials that already exist.
What difficulties, what obstacles do you encounter along the way?
Rossetti: CO2 footprints and reducing CO2 are very complex topics – that makes it difficult. We have to be careful not to get bogged down in trivialities, but to focus on the big polluters first. Then we can move forward one step at a time. I have already mentioned quality as a challenge with the new materials made from recycled material. How much secondary material can we use while still maintaining our reputation for quality? We also want to use more and more recycled material in actual production of our vehicles. This must be guaranteed – the keyword being reliability of supply. This means ordering certain quantities from the suppliers, setting clear targets. This gives suppliers an added incentive to develop further in this direction. My strong network helps me to address all these questions. There are so many parties that have to work together. The direction of thrust is quite clearly set out – and also accepted. All that remains to work out together is the WHAT and HOW.
Does so much preoccupation with CO2 emissions, analyses and recyclates affect the way you go about things away from work as well?
Rossetti: Yes, that is certainly not neglected. I take this pattern of thought with me wherever I go. I ask myself about CO2 consumption when I get on the plane. When I buy food, I consider how much CO2 has already been produced during production and transport. I am very sensitised and pay attention to the small steps. Because I have also learned that what really moves us forward is the multitude of sustainable steps. Unfortunately, there is no single solution.
Let’s imagine you meet the Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Oliver Zipse, and he asks how he can support you in achieving end-to-end transparency. How would you answer?
Rossetti: We need an internal CO2 price. If we derive a tax to assign to every tonne of CO2, we can quantify a business case and link the business aspects to the sustainability target.
In a single sentence: what motivates you every day to work towards these goals?
Rossetti: I want to leave a beautiful earth for my children! I even hear small children talking about the subject. My daughter is always saying: turn off the light, it’s not good for the environment. Our children are naturally affected. I want to leave them the earth in a good state of repair.
And when is it good enough for you? When will you have achieved your goals?
Rossetti: It’s great when we achieve our goals. That already makes me feel happy. In fact, though, the work is only just starting and there is a lot we still have to get going. Whether it’s the circular economy or CO2 emissions: we’re still pretty much at the beginning. It’s only just getting started!
In the upcoming portraits from our “WEffect” sustainability series, committed colleagues will also describe their motivation and explain the contribution they are making to sustainability within the BMW Group.