The BMW Group is to significantly reduce its carbon footprint by 2030 by researching and developing innovative materials. There is a particular focus on renewable raw materials and recycled materials.
The BMW Group is relying more intensively than ever before on new, forward-looking and resource-saving materials in the fight against climate change. This represents an important element of the BMW Group’s unprecedented sustainability strategy. The BMW Group aims to meet its own extremely ambitious climate targets by drastically reducing its carbon footprint per vehicle by 2030. This is driving forward the use of secondary materials with the introduction of the “Neue Klasse” and intensifying the research and development of sustainable materials and substances used in vehicles.
The BMW Group’s view is that only a holistic approach to proven and new materials can reduce CO2 emissions permanently and sustainably. This is why the BMW Group is not only pushing ahead with the successful development of a market for secondary materials, but is also intensifying its cooperation with innovative start-ups in future-oriented materials.
Steady path: “We are rethinking materials”
Despite the enormous research and development work on resource-saving materials, the BMW Group’s top priority is to blend sustainability and premium quality, as Uwe Köhler, Head of Body, Exterior and Interior Development, emphasises: “We are setting new standards for sustainable premium quality. This path requires us to rethink materials, focusing even more specifically on resource-saving material alternatives and renewable materials that have an outstanding capacity to be dismantled. This represents a steady path – a path towards holistic sustainable product development, the responsible use of resources and the transformation to a circular economy.”
Grouping into innovative material groups
Sustainable materials are the basis for resource-saving automotive construction. The BMW Group has defined several material groups, all of which cover the four areas of the circular economy:
RE:THINK, RE:DUCE, RE:CYCLE and RE:USE.
Natural raw materials
Using renewable raw materials and natural fibres such as hemp, kenaf and flax not only minimises the use of materials, but also reduces a vehicle’s weight. This has a positive effect on the CO2 footprint, as natural fibres absorb CO2 while emitting oxygen during their growth phase.
The BMW Group is also researching new types of wood foams. Wood foam consists of 100 per cent renewable raw materials and is so strong that it completely eliminates the need to use synthetic adhesives.
The BMW Group already relies on 100 per cent plastic recyclate – i.e. recycled materials – for thermoplastic components. Together with innovative plastics manufacturers, it is constantly working on developing new plastic recyclates and bioplastics with particularly low carbon footprints.
Alternative to leather
The BMW Group is also working with innovative start-ups to explore new possibilities in vegan leather alternatives: artificial leather with bio-based raw materials, 100 per cent recycled polyester textile and cork particles enable CO2 emissions to be reduced by up to 45 per cent compared to today’s PVC artificial leather. The BMW Group is working with the start-up Adriano di Marti S.A de C.V. to research a sustainable material called DeserttexTM, which consists of powdered cactus fibres and a bio-based polyurethane matrix. The fully recyclable MirumTM also offers a conscientious alternative to traditional leather. The BMW Group’s involvement with the start-up company Natural Fiber Welding opens up new opportunities in developing and implementing plant-based material options.
Synthetic textile variants, which are largely used in seat covers at the BMW Group, are made of 100 per cent recycled material and can be recycled over and over again in the course of their product life to be used several times. The BMW Group’s goal is to focus on more environmentally-friendly monomaterials rather than multimaterial approaches.
Circular path for a sustainable future
The BMW Group aims to use these and many other innovative measures to raise general awareness for sustainable materials and provide a transparent insight into their circular path to a sustainable future – with the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by more than 40 per cent over the life cycle of all BMW Group products by 2030.