Sustain­able DNA

In its focus on sustainability and innovation, BMW takes a holistic approach, from the supply chain through production and the use phase to recycling.

One example is the new BMW iX, which is being built in Dingolfing. Christoph Schröder, Manager of this BMW Group plant ...

… and Steffen Aumann, Head of Recycling at the BMW Recycling and Dismantling Centre Munich-Lohhof, explain the concept of sustainability at their sites.

“Dingolfing is the company’s largest European production site, and the lead plant for BMW’s luxury class models. We’ve also been building electric vehicles here since 2016: the PHEVs of the BMW 7 and 5 Series”, Christoph Schröder explains.

In addition to the vehicle plant, the BMW Group’s global competence centre for e-drive production is located in Dingolfing. There, battery modules, high-voltage batteries and electric engines are produced for plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles like the new BMW iX.

“The clear targets for the reduction of resource consumption have always been achieved. This applies to energy as water – in both cases, through a variety of measures, we’ve reduced consumption per vehicle by more than a fifth over the past ten years”, says Christoph Schröder.

To meet that goal, the team worked at a wide variety of levers – from building technology and an energy-efficient machine and plant system to increased use of renewable energies.

Sustainability always has several facets at such a large plant location – and ranges from packaging planning, to transport logistics and recycling, to topics like biodiversity or water management.

Plant-wide, Dingolfing has a recycling rate of over 99 percent. The majority of that comes from the pressing plant, where steel and aluminium scrap is separated by type. But recycling also plays a major role in the office as well as in production. A total of 85 types of waste is separated.

“The greatest good of the recycling chain is always the reuse of components”, explains Steffen Aumann. “We do a brief function check of the vehicle, then send it directly to the recycling process. This starts with removing the high-voltage battery from the vehicle – if present.”

Once this process is completed, the team tackles all the pyrotechnic components: all the airbags, all the seatbelt pretensioners, all the safety systems. Then the vehicle goes to the drainage platform, where all liquids are extracted.

Then, on the dismantling platform, the recorded parts for further use, the internal development parts and – if present – unwanted materials such as the starter battery, all small batteries or balancing weights are removed.

By the way: any BMW customer can hand in their vehicle for recycling at the BMW Recycling and Dismantling Centre, as Steffen Aumann explains.

Externally sourced electricity at BMW Group plant Dingolfing is 100 per cent green – via proofs of origin or, as in the case of the BMW iX production, via regional direct procurement from a hydropower plant.

There are mandatory specifications for suppliers regarding the recyclability and pollutant-free nature of their materials. For example, the interior uses natural leather with olive leaf tanning or FSC-certified wood in the control centre in the centre console. The cycle closes.