On the north side of Munich in Unterschleissheim lies the BMW Group Recycling and Dismantling Centre (RDC). Since 1994, this has been the site of BMW research into environmentally and efficiently recycling vehicles.
Almost 90% of the car is reused and recycled quickly and efficiently using cutting edge technology. Testing prototypes, pre-production vehicles and those used in marketing campaigns taken from the graveyard and transformed into scrap metal.
The process begins with draining all fluids, then airbags and belt tensioners are deactivated along with the neutralisation of the battery and pyrotechnic components. Fluids and some parts go to waste disposal, but many intact components are sold as spare parts, plus precious metals such as platinum are recycled and engines are reconditioned. The body itself is crushed into a cube.
After shredding the cube into small pieces, the sorting process separates metals from plastics so pieces can be used as secondary raw material. With tens of thousands of parts in each car, the process is certainly difficult, but BMW is constantly exploring ways of disposing the materials in the most efficient way.
In addition to streamlining the recycling process, BMW thinks ahead and works with a ‘design for recycling’ approach, wherein vehicle components are laid out methodically for the easier removal of fluids at the end of the car’s lifecycle.
See the process for yourself at the BMW RDC.