LANDSHUT, Germany—The BMW Group’s light metal foundry here has been recertified by an independent party for its sustainable use of aluminum, meeting the standards of the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative (ASI), an international nonprofit organization supported by environmental and industrial associations, aluminum producers and processing companies. The ASI defines sustainability criteria for an environmentally and socially responsible aluminum value chain.
“Sustainable extraction of raw materials and conscious use of resources play a key role for our in-house component production and our global supplier network,” says Joachim Post, Ph.D., member of the Board of Management of BMW responsible for purchasing and supplier network. “Sourcing aluminum produced using solar power for our in-house component production lowers our CO2 emissions significantly. The circular economy is also key to reducing emissions and conserving natural resources. Going forward, the aim is to build our new vehicles with 50 percent secondary raw materials.”
Landshut’s light metal foundry, BMW’s only production facility for light metal casting in Europe, is among the most advanced, most sustainable foundries in the world. Thanks to its use of inorganic sand cores, the casting process is virtually emission-free. The light metal foundry began sourcing aluminum produced using solar power in 2021. Since producing aluminum is highly energy-intensive, the use of green power such as solar electricity offers considerable potential for reducing CO2 emissions. The tens of thousands of tons of solar aluminum supplied in this way meet more than a third of the annual requirements for the foundry.
Along with steel, aluminum accounts for the largest share, by weight, of the materials used in BMW Group vehicles. Around two thirds of the aluminum used in Landshut comes from a recycling loop, with almost two-thirds of this from the foundry’s own closed loop. In this way, BMW is reducing its use of more carbon-intensive primary aluminum in favor of recycled material. Green power is also used to produce it.
For more than 10 years, the foundry has been working with local processors to implement a recycling loop for post-production scrap metal salvaged from the foundry process. The decisive factor here is clean separation of aluminum residues. Residues are collected from all casting and mechanical processing stations according to type, so materials with different compositions are not mixed. This means that, after reconditioning, aluminum waste can be reused to manufacture the same components.
Last year, employees at the foundry produced around 3.3 million cast components with a total weight of more than 73,000 tons. The scope of production includes engine components, such as cylinder heads and crankcases, components for electric drive trains, and large-scale structural components for vehicle bodies.The carmaker’s concerns about aluminum extend beyond recycling. The conditions under which aluminum ore, bauxite, is mined and processed in countries like Australia, Brazil and Guinea are also important to the company. BMW is in direct contact with aluminum suppliers and recycling partners to expand ASI certification to the entire material cycle, starting with the ore mines.