Start by thinking of the end
BMW specialists start laying the foundations for end-of-life vehicles to be recycled and disposed of efficiently and in an environmentally friendly manner during the product development process. Our Engineers and Design team work closely with our very own Recycling specialists to consider the needs of recycling and ELV disposal.
Life Cycle Assessment case studies are used to systematically analyse the environmental impact of components. Virtual and actual dismantling analyses are carried out to certify that each BMW vehicle achieves the goals set. For example, these measures help to ensure that complete neutralisation of all pyrotechnic devices are carried out quickly and safely, all operating fluids are removed quickly, plastic components are marked with the correct material label and recycled materials are used properly.
This is all thanks to the recycling know-how that has been accumulated by BMW since the early 1990s.
The neutralisation of pyrotechnic devices
During the neutralisation stage, pyrotechnic devices such as airbags, battery safety terminal clamps and safety belt pretensioners are triggered using a standardised activation device. The neutralisation process is carried out fastest in situ. During the development phase, the vehicle electronics are designed so that all pyrotechnic devices can be controlled and activated using one common interface.
Draining of fluids
During the development phase, consideration is given to making sure that all operating fluids such as oils, air-conditioning system refrigerant, brake fluid and radiator coolant can be removed quickly and simply from the vehicle once it reaches its end of life.
Design for Recycling ensures that all components that contain fluids are positioned so that they can be accessed quickly. Opening or drilling components containing fluids at their deepest point allows gravity to play a role in the initial process. Specific components, e.g. the fuel tank and the shock absorbers, are drained using specially designed tools.
All components are labelled in accordance with the international ISO standards. This enables materials to be sorted according to type.
Using recycled materials
Recycled materials are material that have been taken from used parts. They can be used for components as long as they do not lead to any functional limitations. This usually refers to components that are not prominent safety features or are in direct view. Wheel arch trims are predestined to be made of recycled plastic material.
Recycled materials are for instance used in the boot ventilation and the mounting of the central console of the BMW 7 Series. Insulation made of flock compound - an insulating material made out of 80 to 90 percent recycled PUR foam - is used for the rear parcel shelf.
To benefit the environment and to save costs, recycled materials can account for 15 - 20 per cent in weight of the total mass of plastic materials used. This saves resources and introduces closed-loop recycling processes.