UnternehmerTUM and BMW Group have initiated Circular Republic. This collaborative endeavor is designed to enhance the circular economy, focusing on content and communication.
Discussions unfolded with Alexander Bilgeri, responsible for Communications Human Resources, Production, Purchasing, and Sustainability, alongside Karsten Peddinghaus, who leads the Circular Economy Early Phase and Technology Funding, concerning the project’s details.
What sparked the creation of the Circular Republic initiative?
Bilgeri: Initiated by BMW AG and partnered with UnternehmerTUM, Europe’s most extensive start-up hub, the project reflects a longstanding commitment to addressing contemporary issues through communication, particularly in innovation. Proposing a unified platform for diverse circular initiatives marked the inception of Circular Republic. UnternehmerTUM catalyzed the connection of various concepts, garnering our full support. Solitary initiatives or enterprises cannot surmount our era’s challenges; collective technological advancements are crucial, as evidenced by our Catena X initiative. Both Catena X and Circular Republic are instrumental in driving significant strides in the circular economy, carbon reduction, and resilience.
What are the objectives of this initiative?
Peddinghaus: As an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), we recognize the pivotal role of the circular economy in reducing carbon emissions and conserving resources. The initiative emphasizes resilience and robustness, particularly within our supply chains. A focal point is resource security, especially concerning high-voltage batteries. The BMW Group is dedicated to advocating and advancing the circular economy, a commitment showcased at the IAA Mobility 2021 through the BMW i Vision Circular concept vehicle.
Bilgeri: Circular Republic’s vision is to ignite momentum, establishing a foundation for a resilient and sustainable economy. While attracting a multitude of innovative ideas to Munich is an immediate goal, the initiative transcends this single city. Fundamentally, it signifies a collective commitment to fostering continuous innovation and maintaining long-term business attractiveness by nurturing collaborative knowledge transfer between the commercial and academic sectors, along with the dynamism and creativity of young entrepreneurs.
What are BMW Group’s aspirations with Circular Republic?
Bilgeri: Confronting our era’s challenges requires a united front. Our aim is to surface and nurture innovative ideas, transitioning them into scalable solutions. As an OEM, we view our future raw material reserves as already existing on the streets. Our goal is to collaborate with partners to incrementally actualize our circular economy vision, optimizing the recycling of materials from end-of-life vehicles.
Peddinghaus: Our latest vehicles incorporate an average of 30 percent secondary raw materials. Our ambition is to elevate this percentage. However, this necessitates a societal shift away from disposability towards closed material cycles. Circular Republic is envisioned as a platform where initiatives, companies, academia, and innovative minds converge to enhance circularity. It’s about collaboratively fostering creative ideas and transforming them into pragmatic solutions.
Could you describe the nature of this partnership?
Peddinghaus: Our collaboration operates on two tiers. Technically, we aim to intensify knowledge transfer through multi-stakeholder and partner projects within our corporate ecosystem, focusing on the circular economy. Our goal is to disseminate valuable insights and cultivate collaborative ventures for mutual benefit, such as designing recyclable material loops, notably in high-voltage battery recycling, where we aspire to pioneer closed-loop solutions with start-ups and other entities.
Bilgeri: From a communicational perspective, our aim is to amplify public awareness about circular economy benefits and generate excitement. The circular economy is a burgeoning megatrend. What carbon reduction represents for the 2020s, circularity epitomizes for the 2030s. Circular Republic strives to progressively broaden its international influence, establishing the circular economy as a seminal issue of our times.
Why is the present moment optimal for launching a circular economy platform?
Bilgeri: It’s evident that for future societal and corporate prosperity, circular thinking is imperative. BMW AG’s historical success is rooted in long-term vision and conscientious action, with sustainability and resource efficiency as early strategic priorities. Thus, the circular economy is an ideal pursuit for us, particularly in light of escalating global challenges.
Peddinghaus: Now more than ever, a regenerative economic model is essential, where valuable resources are recycled rather than discarded. In this way, we are significantly contributing to enhanced environmental sustainability and a resilient, thriving economy.