The BMW Group pushes the envelope when it comes to sustainability. These efforts now include several projects in packaging logistics to further save resources. Through these projects, the Group aims to work closely with suppliers to reduce carbon emissions and implement the principles of the circular economy as best as possible.

As part of this initiative, European factories will use more recycled materials in their packaging. This will mean that 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 more than 35 per cent. However, using alternative sustainable materials, reducing single-use packaging, introducing lightweight packaging in certain areas and reducing transport volumes will also help reduce carbon emissions.

The BMW Group says it is “tracking the impact of individual measures with a CO2 calculator for packaging. The group’s overall goal is to reduce CO2 emissions in the supply chain by 20 percent per vehicle (compared to 2019).”

According to Michael Nicolaides, BMW Group Head of Production Network and Logistics: “Our approach of ‘re:think, re:duce, re:use, re:cycle’ is consistently implemented in packaging logistics as well. We use innovative strategies to consistently reduce the amount of resources we use, thereby reducing our carbon footprint. We in the logistics department are also doing our part to get the BMW iFACTORY up and running – paying special attention to the ‘green’ side of things.” BMW iFACTORY. LAST. GREEN. DIGITAL. it is a strategic vision of a global production network with an emphasis on flexibility and efficiency, sustainable development and digitization. It provides an answer to the challenges associated with the transition to e-mobility and uses a global approach. “Eco-friendly” means using the latest technology to create a manufacturing process that uses minimal resources.

The plastic in the packaging has been replaced with recycled material
One example of how the BMW Group fulfills the circular economy criteria is the use of recycled materials in polypropylene packaging (EPP = expanded polypropylene). Currently, its newly developed EPP packaging already contains 25 percent recycled materials.

Using recycled materials in EPP packaging will save almost 280 tons of CO2 every year.

EPP is used in special containers as its shape can be adapted to the components being packed, allowing them to be transported safely. About 360,000 such containers are required each year. Using 25 percent of recycled materials saves almost 280 tons of CO2 annually. There are plans to further increase this proportion of recycled materials, with the first 100 per cent recycled material pilot schemes currently underway. If these tests are successful, this configuration will become standard for new contracts from 2024.

An additional 680 tons of carbon dioxide emissions can be saved every year by using covers and so-called small freight with 50 percent recycled material. These measures are currently focused on European markets due to the current waste management situation and available recycling infrastructure. We are currently working on expanding our branches in Mexico, USA and China.

The use of small cargo chassis with recycled material can contribute to an additional 680 tonnes of carbon savings

Reduction of transportation volumes
The BMW Group is also introducing something that will have an even bigger impact on emissions: the folding large cargo racks. From this year, pallet cages made of steel will be replaced by sophisticated plastic alternatives made from more than 90 percent recycled material. They work in a similar way to the folding shopping boxes that most people are familiar with: when empty, they can be folded up, making them easier to transport. The use of 15,000 new containers reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 3,000 tons per year.

Instead of pallet cages made of steel, the BMW Group will use complex large cargo frames made from more than 90 percent recycled material. When empty, they can be folded, which makes them easier to transport.

Alternative materials with great potential
When it comes to packaging, there is no limit. The BMW Group is launching pilot projects using biomaterials to replace oil-based polyethylene and polypropylene (PE and PP). The company is also exploring whether and how it can use materials from recycled appliances in its packaging. In the long term, the main goal is to use alternatives to raw materials everywhere.

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