• The BMW Group's European plants will now use more recycled material in its packaging as part of its new initiative. Image: BMW Group
    The BMW Group's European plants will now use more recycled material in its packaging as part of its new initiative. Image: BMW Group
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BMW Group has implemented several projects in place within its packaging logistics in a bid to become more sustainable and further save resources.

With these projects, the Group aims to work closely with suppliers to reduce carbon emissions, and realise the principles of the circular economy as best it can.

As part of this initiative, the European plants will use more recycled material in its packaging, which means, for newly awarded contracts, the proportion of recycled material in reusable packaging for logistics purposes will almost double this year – from around 20 per cent to over 35. 

However, using alternative sustainable materials, reducing single-use packaging, introducing lightweight packaging in certain areas, and reducing transport volumes will also help cut carbon emissions.

The BMW Group is monitoring the impact of individual measures via a CO2 calculator for packaging. The Group’s overall aim is to reduce CO2 emissions in the supply chain by 20 per cent per vehicle (compared to 2019). 

“Our ‘re:think, re:duce, re:use, re:cycle’ approach is being implemented consistently in packaging logistics too. We’re using innovative strategies to consistently reduce the volume of resources we use, thus reducing our carbon footprint,” said Michael Nikolaides, head of BMW Group’s Production Network and Logistics. 

“We in Logistics are also doing our part to get the BMW iFactory up and running – with a particular focus on the ‘green’ side of things.

“BMW iFactory. Lean. Green. Digital is the strategic vision for the global production network, with an emphasis on flexibility and efficiency, sustainability and digitalisation. It provides an answer to the challenges involved in the transformation to e-mobility and takes a global approach. 

“Green means leveraging the latest technologies to create a production process that uses minimal resources.” 

One example of how the BMW Group is fulfilling the criteria of a circular economy is the use of recycled material in EPP packaging. 

“Currently, our newly developed EPP packaging already contains 25 per cent recycled material,” Nikolaides explained. 

“EPP is used in special containers as its shape can be adapted to the components being packaged, allowing them to be transported safely. Around 360,000 of these containers are needed each year.

“Using 25 per cent recycled material allows us to save almost 280 tonnes of CO2 annually. There are plans to increase this proportion of recycled material even further, with the first pilot schemes with 100 per cent recycled material currently underway. 

“If these tests are successful, this configuration will become standard for new contracts from 2024.”

An additional 680 tonnes of carbon emissions savings can be made every year by using covers, and so-called small load carriers with 50 per cent recycled contents. 

As things stand, these measures are focused within the European markets due to the current waste management situation and available recycling infrastructure. 

The BMW Group is currently working towards expanding to its other locations in Mexico, the USA and China.

The Group is also introducing something that it said will have an even greater impact on emissions – folding large load carriers. 

As of this year, instead of pallet cages made of steel, we will be using folding plastic alternatives made from over 90 per cent recycled material. 

These work in a similar way to the collapsible shopping crates that most people are familiar with – when they are empty, they can be folded up, making them easier to transport. 

Using 15,000 of these new containers reduces CO2 by around 3000 tonnes per year.

“When it comes to packaging, the sky’s the limit. We’re launching pilot projects using bio-based materials to replace oil-based substances PE and PP,” Nikolaides concluded. 

“We are also investigating whether, and in what ways, we can use materials from recycled household appliances in our packaging. In the long term, our aim is to use alternatives to raw materials across the board.”

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