Ronal Group has produced the world’s first light-alloy wheels made of 100% secondary aluminum for use on a vehicle in series production in cooperation with BMW Group. Manufactured at Ronal’s plant in Landau, Germany, the wheels are being utilized on the new MINI Cooper SE convertible.
The wheels are comprised of 40% pre-consumer scrap (including chips generated in production) and 60% post-consumer aluminum scrap material, which is supplied by Eccomelt. The post-consumer scrap is said to achieve the same quality as that of primary aluminum, while simultaneously reducing emissions by 75%. At the end of its life, the alloy wheel of the MINI Cooper SE can itself be recycled to make a new wheel.
This is part of the company’s PLANBLUE sustainability strategy, which aims to achieve a 50% reduction in its CO2 emissions from manufacturing by 2030. The company plans to achieve completely CO2-neutral production of all its wheels by 2050.
According to Ronal’s carbon balance sheet, 74% of the CO2 generation is attributable to aluminum procurement. In regards to primary aluminum, the company sources 100% of its aluminum from members of the Aluminum Steward Initiative (ASI), who have been certified according to ASI standards. In addition, 63% of the primary aluminum it purchases is proven to be produced using renewable energy. The wheel manufacturer has also been ASI Performance Standard certified since September 2022.
In addition, the company has been working for years to expand its sustainable resources and increase the proportion of recycled materials in its manufacturing operations in order to continuously reduce its ecological footprint.
One of Ronal’s initiatives was its R70-blue carbon-neutral aluminum wheels, which the company introduced at the end of 2020. The R70-blue wheels use 60% recycled aluminum (half from production scrap and half from post-consumer scrap) and 40% low-carbon primary aluminum — allowing for a 70% reduction in carbon footprint compared to standard wheels. For those greenhouse gas emissions that cannot be avoided, a complete CO2 offset is made and the emissions are compensated with a Gold Standard certified project.
Furthermore, the company launched the RONAL Aluminum Wheel Recycling (RONAL-Re) project in March 2021. The project aims to replace as much primary aluminum as possible with recycled aluminum in wheel production by 2030.
“We can conserve valuable resources by minimizing the use of primary materials and replacing them with recycled materials of equally high quality,” said Martin Wyss, head of the RONAL-Re project. “We demonstrate the feasibility of this in terms of the circular economy both with our RONAL R70-blue and with the wheels made of 100% secondary aluminum that we produce for the MINI Cooper SE Convertible.”
Ronal’s Landau production plant plans to expand its production of secondary aluminum wheels. It intends to receive approval from all of its OEM customers by mid-year. This will halve its CO2 footprint by the end of the year.