Ferdinand Geckeler und drei Kollegen

Sustainable delivery.

A new reference work shows how strategies for sustainable supply chain management and other areas are developed and implemented at the BMW Group. The idea is for other companies to benefit from this wealth of experience.

The BMW Group aspires to be the most successful, most sustainable provider of premium individual mobility. That is why, for the past 20 years or so, social and environmental action has been part of its corporate philosophy – in some cases, with far-reaching consequences for the BMW Group itself and for those who work with the company. All service providers and suppliers throughout the entire BMW Group production and service chain – as well as the transport companies it uses – have a responsibility to operate in a sustainable manner. From extraction of raw materials to parts and individual products, all the way to shipping, delivery and the sale of finished vehicles.

The BMW Group currently works directly with around 12,000 companies in 70 countries. These, in turn, have their own suppliers who also have to meet the same high environmental and social standards the BMW Group measures itself against. They too are strictly monitored for environmental impact and human rights, as well as work and business practices. 

To document experiences and insights into creating sustainable supply chains in complex supplier networks and share them with other companies, the Institute of Sustainable Corporate Management at Ulm University has now published the “Sustainable Supply Chain Management – from Strategy to Implementation” guide in conjunction with the BMW Group. The book is available in German.

“The publication is geared towards companies of all sizes across all industries seeking to establish sustainable supply chain management. From strategy development, all the way to concrete implementation, the guide highlights aspects to focus on,” explains Ferdinand Geckeler, responsible for sustainability in the Purchasing and Supplier Network division at the BMW Group.

The reference work summarises learnings from academic and practice-oriented publications and features interviews with experts from business, academia and NGOs. “To accommodate the high level of complexity, each chapter provides a brief summary of key aspects, as well as detailed descriptions,” says Geckeler. The guide also features concrete examples from the BMW Group, which provide an in-depth insight into practices including using a standardised sustainability questionnaire to review sustainability performance, BMW Group sustainability assessments and safeguarding supply chain sustainability.

Any company that wants to be a BMW Group supplier must meet a variety of sustainability standards. “The strictest requirements apply to suppliers that deliver goods for production. Here, the BMW Group expects a certified environmental and occupational health and safety management system to be implemented no later than the start of production,” emphasises Geckeler.

Another example is handling of so-called “critical raw materials”. At the BMW Group, these currently include aluminium, steel, copper, 3TG, 12 rare earths, cobalt, nickel, graphite, lithium, palladium, mica, glass, zinc and the biotic raw materials natural rubber, leather, kenaf and wood. In this area, the company relies on the transparency of its supply chain and verifiable assurance of high socio-environmental standards. The BMW Group regularly joins forces with initiatives and other companies to improve the situation for cobalt mining, for example, as well as extraction of natural rubber.