8 FIGURES FOR THE FUTURE: OUR PATH TO SUSTAINABLE MANUFACTURING.
Without sustainable manufacturing, there can be no eco-friendly mobility. That’s why MINI, as a BMW Group brand, also looks to attain maximum sustainability with its raw materials and in its plants. Read on to find out 8 facts about our path to a sustainable future.
MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4: Official fuel consumption (combined): 6,5 – 6,2 l/100 km; Official CO2 emissions (combined): 149 – 142 g/km (NEFZ / NEFD).
Sustainability starts – well, where does it actually start? With buying an electric car? Or with economical driving?
One thing is clear: sustainable mobility starts a long way before that. Specifically, in the extraction of raw materials and in production at the car factory. It’s worth taking a critical look here, especially when it comes to electric vehicles. This is because the production of batteries in particular is energy-intensive. And the raw materials required for batteries are extracted under poor working conditions in some places. More on that shortly.
And where does sustainability end? With the scrapping of the car? Shouldn't the goal instead be a circular economy in which as few resources as possible are wasted?
Join us on a journey along MINI’s supply chain and to our production sites. We’ll let you in on eight facts about sustainable production and eco-friendly cars.
Recycling reigns supreme at BMW Group car factories.
A circular economy can only succeed if as little as possible is thrown away – in other words if waste does not end up in landfill or getting incinerated, but re-enters the use process.
The production of almost 2.5 million BMW Group vehicles in 2021 generated waste, around 780,000 tonnes of it. This includes packaging materials for components, as well as steel and offcuts from seat covers. There are valuable resources in these leftover materials. That’s why 99% of waste in 2021 was recycled (93.4%) or (e.g. thermally) recovered (5.8%). With this rate, MINI is laying the foundations for sustainable cars right from the production of the vehicles.
Up to 40% recycled metals.
Not throwing much away is one thing, but where do the raw and other materials that go into the manufacturing process come from? In the interests of a circular economy, the goal must be to use as high a percentage of recycled materials as possible.
The BMW Group, to which MINI belongs, already uses what are known as “secondary materials” in many areas. In the case of plastic components, for example, the proportion of recycled plastics is 15%. The aim is to grow this to 25% in the medium term. When it comes to metals, the BMW Group has gone further. In the case of cast aluminium parts, for example, the proportion of recycled material is 40%.
Sustainable materials with a high recycled fraction also make an important contribution to climate change mitigation. Metals such as aluminium in particular require a lot of energy in their production and therefore have a significant corporate carbon footprint.
21 LNG TRUCKS ENSURE ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS LOGISTICS.
There’s another, heavy contribution to be made towards reducing MINI’s corporate carbon footprint: 21 heavy goods vehicles that deliver components from suppliers to MINI Plant Oxford across 15 different routes around the United Kingdom.
What’s special about this fleet of vehicles? They run on LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas). They have an impressive impact on the environment and climate change mitigation:
- Near-zero particulate matter emissions, since natural gas burns virtually free of particulate matter.
- 20% lower emissions of CO2 and nitrogen oxides.
- Up to 90% less CO2 if the trucks are run on bio-LNG in the future.
- Biogas is obtained from sources such as organic household waste and is so among the renewable energies.
LNG trucks are also quieter than diesel ones. They therefore make an audible contribution to more eco-friendly mobility.
As many raw materials as possible from sustainable sources.
As we stated before, and with electromobility in particular, sustainability has to begin at the start of the supply chain. By way of background information, the metals lithium and cobalt are required for battery cells. Both lithium mining and the extraction of cobalt have come under fire. This is because, in some countries, such as in the Congo, mining often only adheres to low environmental standards. More than anything, though, there are also reports of poor working conditions and child labour. Sustainable manufacturing of electric cars also has a social sustainability dimension.
The BMW Group’s goal is clear – 100% of raw materials such as lithium and cobalt should come from sustainable sources that also stand for high social standards. For that reason, since 2020 the BMW Group has been sourcing both cobalt and lithium from Australia and Morocco for its batteries. The mines there meet the highest sustainability standards.
WE ONLY ACCEPT COMPANIES THAT EXTRACT COBALT FROM MINES WHERE EMPLOYEES ARE PROTECTED.
At the same time, the BMW Group continues to be committed to better working conditions for people in the Congo. It is supporting a project of the German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), looking into the working conditions in Congolese mines and developing potential improvements.
Zero deep-sea minerals.
Valuable natural resources also lie dormant in the depths of the oceans. However, it is not yet possible to estimate the ecological consequences of systematic exploitation of these resources. As a result, WWF Germany is among those calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining until its consequences have been fully researched and protection for the deep seas can be guaranteed.
In 2020 the BMW Group therefore launched an initiative, together with the WWF itself, to support the WWF’s position. For MINI, this means that we do not use any minerals from the deep seas on a precautionary basis, and we do not finance deep-sea mining.
MORE THAN 11,500 SOLAR PANELS CREATING CARBON ELECTRICITY.
When the photovoltaic systems were installed on one of the production buildings of the MINI plant in Oxford in 2014, it was one of the largest in the whole of the United Kingdom. More than 11,500 solar modules cover an area the size of about five football pitches and supply production halls and administration with around 2.7 gigawatts of energy from renewable sources per year. This is the equivalent of the electricity consumption of over 930 households (based on an average household in the UK) and it reduces the annual carbon footprint by around 1,500 tonnes. From 2017, all Plant Oxford’s electricity came from renewable sources. The plant is always working to innovative ideas, for example, using a new heating and ventilation system with heat recovery for the Paint Shop.
Incidentally, our plant is not alone in its clean energy efforts. Since July 2020, we have drawn all our external electric power from renewable energy sources for our production sites. Since 2021 all of our sites are net CO2 neutral via offsets.
REDUCING ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION.
More sustainable production also means reducing energy consumption. And that’s where employees in one of the cities where Harry Potter was filmed did a little magic of their own: in 2018 alone, they reduced electricity consumption at our Oxford plant by replacing 18,000 incandescent light bulbs with LED lamps, which typically reduces energy use by around 75% per bulb.
Saving resources is no witchcraft, though. The roof also plays a key role at the MINI plant in Swindon, England: the 8,000 m2 flat roof is used to collect rainwater. This water is then used for cleaning, watering green areas and flushing toilets. This, too, contributes to greater sustainability in the automotive production.
Focus on sustainable materials.
Leather interiors are popular, especially leather seats. At MINI, we’ve been into sustainable alternatives for quite some time. We’re also looking into using more recycled materials instead of leather. In future, we’d like to do without leather entirely and offer our customers innovative materials that are in no way inferior in terms of value and seating comfort – they must continue to ensure a timeless interior design in our vehicles.
MINI has already achieved some success in terms of sustainable manufacturing. However, it goes without saying that we don’t see ourselves as having reached our destination just yet. We will exhaust all possibilities to achieve our sustainability goals in all areas, not just in manufacturing. Our environmentally conscious approach drives us along the path to sustainable mobility.
Hinweis (English disclaimers below):
Die offiziellen Angaben zu Kraftstoffverbrauch, CO2-Emissionen und Stromverbrauch wurden nach dem vorgeschriebenen Messverfahren VO (EU) 715/2007 in der jeweils geltenden Fassung ermittelt. Die Angaben berücksichtigen bei Spannbreiten Unterschiede in der gewählten Rad- und Reifengröße. Die Werte der Fahrzeuge basieren bereits auf der neuen WLTP-Verordnung und werden in NEFZ-Äquivalenzwerte zurückgerechnet, um den Vergleich zwischen den Fahrzeugen zu gewährleisten. Bei diesen Fahrzeugen können die CO2-Werte für fahrzeugbezogene Steuern oder andere Abgaben, die (zumindest unter anderem) auf CO2-Emissionen basieren, von den hier angegebenen Werten abweichen. Die CO2-Effizienz-Spezifikationen werden gemäß der Richtlinie 1999/94/EG und der Europäischen Verordnung in der jeweils gültigen Fassung festgelegt. Die angegebenen Werte basieren auf dem Kraftstoffverbrauch, den CO2-Werten und dem Energieverbrauch nach dem NEFZ-Zyklus für die Klassifizierung. Weitere Informationen über den offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und die spezifischen CO2-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem "Handbuch über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO2-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch neuer Personenkraftwagen" entnommen werden, das an allen Verkaufsstellen und unter https://www.dat.de/angebote/verlagsprodukte/leitfaden-kraftstoffverbrauch.html erhältlich ist.
The values of fuel consumptions, CO2 emissions and energy consumptions shown were determined according to the European Regulation (EC) 715/2007 in the version applicable at the time of type approval. The figures refer to a vehicle with basic configuration in Germany and the range shown considers optional equipment and the different size of wheels and tires available on the selected model. The values of the vehicles are already based on the new WLTP regulation and are translated back into NEDC-equivalent values in order to ensure the comparison between the vehicles. [With respect to these vehicles, for vehicle related taxes or other duties based (at least inter alia) on CO2-emissions the CO2 values may differ to the values stated here.] The CO2 efficiency specifications are determined according to Directive 1999/94/EC and the European Regulation in its current version applicable. The values shown are based on the fuel consumption, CO2 values and energy consumptions according to the NEDC cycle for the classification. For further information about the official fuel consumption and the specific CO2 emission of new passenger cars can be taken out of the „handbook of fuel consumption, the CO2 emission and power consumption of new passenger cars“, which is available at all selling points and at https://www.dat.de/angebote/verlagsprodukte/leitfaden-kraftstoffverbrauch.html.