Without sustainable manufacturing, there can be no eco-friendly mobility. That’s why we, as a BMW Group brand, are looking to attain maximum sustainability with our raw materials and in our plants. Read on to find out eight facts about our path to a sustainable future.
Does MINI sustainability start with buying an electric car? Or with economical driving? Nope – sustainable mobility begins long before that, in the extraction of raw materials and during production at the car factory. It’s worth taking a critical look here, especially when it comes to electric vehicles, as the production of batteries is energy-intensive.
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 through our production sites. We’ll let you in on eight facts about sustainable production and eco-friendly cars
A circular economy can only succeed if as little as possible is thrown away – in other words, if waste does not end up in a landfill or an incinerator but is reused instead.
The production of almost 2.5 million BMW Group vehicles per year does generate 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, which is why 99% of waste at the average BMW Group car factory is already recycled. With this recycling rate, we’re laying the foundations for sustainable cars right from the production stage.
There’s another way we’re reducing our corporate carbon footprint – in the form of 18 heavy goods vehicles delivering 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), thereby offering a number of environmental advantages over their conventional diesel counterparts.
Here are some of the benefits of operating an LNG fleet:
Sustainability must begin at the start of our supply chain. Lithium and cobalt are required for battery cells, but both raise ethical and environmental concerns. This is because in countries like the Congo, mining often only adheres to low environmental standards. And there are reports of poor working conditions and child labour. So the sustainable manufacturing of electric cars also has a social dimension.
The BMW Group’s goal is clear – 100% of raw materials such as lithium and cobalt should come from sustainable sources with 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 ethical and sustainability standards.
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.
Valuable natural resources also lie dormant in the depths of the oceans. However, it is not yet possible to estimate the ecological consequences of the 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.
The BMW Group has therefore launched an initiative 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.
Our solar panels cover an area the size of five football pitches and facilitate sustainable manufacturing at Plant Oxford. All 11,500 solar panels sit on the roof of our factory and have a combined output of three megawatts, covering 100% of the energy requirements of our main plant. This reduces the corporate carbon footprint of MINI Plant Oxford by 1,500 tonnes of CO2 per year.
And our plant is not an exception. All 30 BMW Group plants get 100% of their electricity from renewable, green energy sources.
Great progress has been made toward renewable energies, but eco-friendly production also means reducing energy consumption. And that’s where our employees helped us make a big difference: in 2018, they reduced electricity consumption at our Oxford plant by 41% compared to the previous year, by making a number of changes, including replacing 18,000 incandescent light bulbs with LED lamps.
The car factory roof also plays a key role at our MINI plant in Swindon, England: we use the 8,000 m2 flat roof to collect rainwater. This water is then used for cleaning, watering green areas, and even flushing toilets.
Leather interiors are popular, especially leather seats. We’ve been into sustainable alternatives for some time, and are now exploring MINI recycled materials. We’d like to do without leather entirely in the future, offering our customers innovative materials with the same quality and seating comfort as leather – and all whilst maintaining the timeless interior design of our vehicles.
The MINI Lifestyle Collection has long combined outstanding design with sustainable materials. Our MINI Bracenet Keyring does not just prevent you from losing your car keys, it also consists of pieces of salvaged “ghost nets” – lost or intentionally cut fishing nets left floating around the oceans (posing a threat to many animal species). These simple keyrings are a great example of long-term MINI recycling in action.