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This episode is about the future of circular product design – with Anna Goldhofer, sustainability specialist for interior parts at the BMW Group.
As a passionate mountain lover based in Munich who is witnessing the melting of glaciers firsthand, climate change and its effects have become a daily struggle for Goldhofer. While the numbers don’t look good, Goldhofer believes in the power of individuals who work and act on behalf of big industries to enable change on a larger scale. This led her to work for the BMW Group with a mission that is close to her heart: working towards a circular economy.
Goldhofer studied industrial engineering with a focus on material science and sustainable materials at the University of Augsburg, Germany. She began her career at the BMW Group as a working student and gained experience with BMW i and at a plant in South Africa before joining the company permanently. Goldhofer won the BMW Accelerator Program with the idea of “circular parts,” which she then presented at the One Young World Summit in London in 2019. Goldhofer is now a mentor and jury member for the Accelerator’s Sustainability Challenges. She also participated in panel talks on the circular economy at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow and held a TED Talk called “Why and how the industry must change.” Since 2020, Goldhofer has been working as a sustainability specialist for interior parts at BMW Group and recently joined a team of specialists that implement circular economy within the supply chain.
Given that many resources are limited, Goldhofer advocates for the radical shift that needs to happen in our economy as a whole – from a linear principle to a true circular economy in which nothing is wasted. The BMW Group has already expressed a clear focus on the circular economy principles of the future, based on the four principles of RE:think, RE:duce, RE:use, and RE:cycle (➜ Read also: Focus on circular economy).
With the goal of becoming completely CO2 neutral no later than 2050, the whole life cycle of a vehicle is being rethought – including design and production (➜ Read also: This is how BMW produces cars sustainably), recycling and the entire value chain. Even small changes can scale up and have a big impact. Take the fully recyclable and CO2-neutral floor mat that Goldhofer helped develop: It’s a start that serves as a reference point for all projects to follow, including Goldhofer’s next project, the car seat.
Already today, BMW Group plants around the world source 100 percent green electricity. And when it comes to e-cars: High-voltage batteries are currently 90 percent recyclable. BMW Group cars, on the other hand, are 95 percent recyclable. Just like Goldhofer envisions for the future, sustainability will be the core element that shapes everything the BMW Group does.
Author: Narges Derakhshaan, Jelena Pecic; Collage: Caroline Wabra; Art Direction: Madita O'Sullivan; Sound: Julia Niedermeier, David Georgos