The future is
circular

As we transition to electromobility, there’s a growing need to close material cycles. The road ahead leads us further away from the outdated “take, make, waste” principle and towards circularity. Only when we reach this destination will our approach to sustainability be complete. This is why the BMW Group is working on keeping the resources for vehicles in a closed-loop cycle.

To protect and preserve the environment, to reuse valuable resources multiple times and to ensure that nothing ends up going to waste – this is what we understand as circular economy.

The BMW i Vision Circular shows how a compact, all-electric vehicle focused on sustainability and luxury could look in the future. The principles of the circular economy shaped this vision of the future, in which vehicles are manufactured entirely from secondary materials and are 100% recyclable.

What does the BMW i Vision Circular represent?

The BMW i Vision Circular is based on four principles: RE:THINK, RE:DUCE, RE:USE and RE:CYCLE. They embody both a new way of thinking and acting. This starts with sourcing and procuring resources in a sustainable manner. And it continues by fostering innovative spirit, partnership, transparency and monitoring. To close material cycles has become a mission within the BMW Group. Our determination is evidenced by our “Secondary First” approach.

RE:THINK

Our engineers and circularity experts left no stone unturned when designing the BMW i Vision Circular and scrutinised every detail of the car in line with the RE:THINK principle. The visionary vehicle and how it could be produced – together with all material cycles – were re-imagined from the ground up and tirelessly optimised.

RE:DUCE

Less is more: the RE:DUCE principle involves reducing whatever we use, wherever we can – for example, materials. The BMW i Vision Circular exemplifies this principle with greatly reduced manual controls that have been replaced by purely digital human-machine interfaces. This not only makes the vehicle lighter and helps to protect the environment, but it also reduces costs and helps the driver concentrate even more on what’s important.

RE:USE

Remanufacture and redesign of certain vehicle modules can help extend the life cycle. That’s the aim of the RE:USE principle. It’s for this reason that the connections in the BMW i Vision Circular are all comparatively easy to remove, making it simple to replace certain materials and components. This also allows our engineers to constantly refresh and re-imagine the vehicle.

RE:CYCLE

The RE:CYCLE principle focuses on using recycled materials, which can then be reused again at the end of the product’s or various parts life cycle. Our material researchers therefore selected a manageable number of mono-materials to make up the components of the BMW i Vision Circular, with detachable connections allowing various parts to be quickly and easily dismantled at a later date.

CIRCULARITY NEEDS INNOVATION

Innovation is the key to reaching a circular economy. After all, real circularity can only work with the right tools, which is why the BMW Group continues to explore new methods and strategies to keep disused vehicles and their components in the resource cycle. For example, we have recently begun a pilot project with BASF and the ALBA Group aimed at increasing the recycling of vehicle plastics. New components and systems must also be designed to be fully recyclable.

REUSE VALUABLE RESOURCES

The circular economy requires a new way of thinking, particularly in terms of where we get our raw materials from and how we use them. In the BMW Group, we’re minimising waste production along the entire value chain whilst also improving our recycling processes and using secondary materials wherever possible.

SECONDARY MATERIAL TODAY

In cast aluminum components up to
50%
In steel components
25%
In components from thermoplastics
20%
Oliver Zipse

“I firmly believe the fight against climate change and how we use resources will decide the future of our society – and of the BMW Group. That is why we are taking responsibility here and now and making these issues central to our strategic direction. This new strategic direction will be anchored in all divisions – from administration and purchasing to development and production, all the way to sales. We are taking sustainability to the next level.”

Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG

PARTNERSHIP, DIALOGUE AND EXCHANGE

The circular economy demands joint solutions, which is why the BMW Group fosters partnerships, dialogue and exchange – both within and outside of the company. This is reflected in the new RE:BMW Circular Lab, for example, which invites people to shape the future together, and BMW Group Dialogues, the most recent of which took place at COP26 in Glasgow.

The BMW Group’s network of partners is also growing. For instance, we have recently partnered with the Swedish start-up H2 Green Steel to source steel produced with green power from 2025 onwards. The partnership will also allow waste metal from BMW plants to be retained within a closed-loop material cycle. In addition, the BMW Group continues to invest in a greener future through BMW i Ventures and is supporting its network of suppliers in transitioning to a circular economy.

TRANSPARENCY AND MONITORING

For a strategy to be successful, it not only needs to be implemented correctly but must also be continuously monitored and transparent. Using lithium and cobalt from certified mines in Australia and Morocco and improving vehicle recycling are two great examples of successful strategies within the BMW Group. Strategies and solutions like these are documented in the BMW Group’s 2021 Integrated Report and on our interactive world map.

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