Our latest issue
Electronic track and trace is now the
norm for both businesses and con-
sumers. ‘This is the future for recy-
cling, too,’ Ganser says. ‘Whereas you
can return some simple products, like
bottles and cans, at local hotspots,
the same logic doesn’t apply to cars.
You can’t put a sticker on the gearbox
that says “if you find this part, please
send it back”. Can you imagine that?’
he adds with a laugh.
Ultimately, BMW wants to build the
world’s largest library of digital twins.
‘We know it can work because it is
based on an international network
that already exists in real time. Now
we need to build a digital counter-
This innovative ‘ecosystem’, which was
developed with funding from the
German government, will be made
available across the value chain. ‘We
have an open-door policy,’ Ganser
says. According to BMW, Catena is on
its way to becoming a globally accept-
ed and utilised solution for the auto-
‘I’ll be honest, on-boarding members
will be our biggest task,’ Ganser
asserts. ‘That’s why we’re so happy
about the first companies – producers,
dismantlers and recyclers – joining us
to help kickstart the system.’
BMW conducted a survey in 2021 to
help map the obstacles on the road to
data sharing. ‘We found that only
about 8% of our partners are willing
to share their data. Why? The biggest
obstacle is that data is not compati-
ble.’ Businesses said they use different
systems (50%), have no matching part-
ner (45%), experience legal uncertain-
ties (38%), doubt the economical
attractiveness of sharing data (36%),
or have general concerns about data
Ganser emphasises that efficiency is
the foundation of the new platform.
‘People probably like to know; to
keep control of their data at all times.
But no one is going to take it from
you. You just become part of the
‘You know what they say: “Never let a
good crisis go to waste.” The world is
facing many problems and uncertain-
ties. The urgency is there.
‘Dismantling and recycling could
become so much easier. The industry
has to take the plunge with us.’
That last phrase struck a chord with
the recycling players in Basel. ‘It’s easy
for a producer to say,’ I heard my
neighbour whisper. ‘They have all the
information about product design,
tools required, material composition,’
said another. ‘It’s about time they are
more forthcoming about their own
operations,’ was a general conclusion.
‘Full transparency goes both ways,
BMW’s Catena X is a ‘digital library’ for the global automotive sector.
SWISS BEST PRACTICE
In Switzerland, meanwhile, more than 100 000 ELVs are recovered every
year, with up to 85% of each vehicle being recycled. Of this, 70% goes to
shredder plants, according to Foundation Auto Recycling Switzerland.
Annually, some 70 000 tonnes of scrap iron and steel and 5 000 tonnes of
non-ferrous metals are recovered. Around 20% of a scrapped vehicle is left
as shredder residue, yielding roughly 20 000 tonnes per annum.
IARC included a tour of Thommen Recycling’s facility near Basel. Besides
handling traditional vehicles, the recycler has been treating electric vehicles
since 2019. Dismantling valuable battery packs, each weighing up to 600kg,
has become standard practice.
16-17-18-19-20-21-22_iarcreport.indd 22 12-09-2022 14:38