Kia’s Remarkable Recycling Effort: Transforming 55 Tons of Ocean Trash into Reusable Plastic

"Kia Partners with The Ocean Cleanup to Incorporate Record 55-Ton Plastic Reclaimed from Pacific Ocean into Future EV Models"

Kia, the South Korean carmaker, has announced plans to incorporate recycled plastic from a record-breaking 55-ton haul of trash from the Pacific Ocean into its future electric vehicle (EV) models. The plastic was collected by Kia’s partner, The Ocean Cleanup, an international non-profit organization dedicated to removing plastic from the world’s oceans. The trash was retrieved from the Pacific Ocean and transported to Victoria, Vancouver, Canada. This development highlights Kia’s commitment to sustainable mobility solutions and its efforts to become a responsible corporate citizen.

A Kia executive commented on the significance of this endeavor, stating that it demonstrates how technology can drive large-scale sustainable solutions. The senior VP further emphasized that initiatives like this align perfectly with Kia’s transition to a sustainable mobility solutions provider, as outlined in its Plan S strategy. Kia has set ambitious net-zero goals and has taken steps to reduce its carbon emissions.

Kia has made carbon neutrality a priority and aims to achieve this by 2045. To reach this target, the company plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 97% compared to 2019 levels by 2045. Kia will then explore ways to offset the remaining emissions to achieve net-zero status. The company’s strategy for achieving net-zero and carbon neutrality includes focusing on sustainable energy, sustainable mobility, and sustainable planet initiatives. In addition to transitioning to fully electric models, Kia is investing in recyclable and eco-friendly materials and technologies to minimize its environmental impact.

As part of this strategy, Kia supports The Ocean Cleanup and its efforts to remove plastic from the oceans. The recycled plastic from the record-breaking haul will be used in future Kia models, specifically as interior components for their fully electric cars. This aligns with Kia’s commitment to providing sustainable mobility solutions that have a measurable impact on the environment. Kia has already incorporated recycled materials into its vehicles, such as fabrics and carpets made from recycled PET and bio-based leather. For example, the EV9 model features a floor carpet made from fishing nets.

The partnership between Kia and The Ocean Cleanup, which spans seven years, will provide Kia with additional resources to recycle and utilize in its interior car parts. The 55-ton haul of plastic waste was retrieved using The Ocean Cleanup’s System 002 extraction technology after a lengthy journey through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), the largest accumulation of floating waste in the world. The GPGP covers an area of approximately 1.6 million square kilometers, which is more than four times the size of Germany.

The Ocean Cleanup’s floating systems are designed to capture plastics of all sizes, from microplastics to larger debris. Their projections indicate that around 10 full-size systems are needed to clear the GPGP. By deploying fleets of extraction systems, The Ocean Cleanup aims to remove 90% of floating ocean plastic by 2040. Following the successful retrieval of the 55-ton trash with System 002, the organization unveiled its new System 03 technology, which is three times larger than its predecessor. The improved system can capture more plastic waste at lower costs and incorporates advanced environmental monitoring and safety technology to protect marine life.

The Ocean Cleanup has committed to offsetting all carbon emissions from its System 002 campaign and is collaborating with Maersk to explore low-carbon fuels for their support vessels. Looking ahead, the organization aims to remove 50% of the GPGP every five years, but acknowledges that this monumental task cannot be accomplished alone. The Ocean Cleanup recognizes the importance of committed and valued partners, such as Kia, in realizing their shared ambition of plastic-free oceans.

The collaboration between Kia and The Ocean Cleanup may make them eligible for earning plastic credits. Each credit represents a ton of plastic waste that would otherwise not have been collected or recycled. These credits can be utilized to address sustainability concerns or contribute to net-zero commitments. Kia’s commitment to repurposing the 55 tons of Pacific Ocean plastic recovered by The Ocean Cleanup into future EV models signifies a significant shift towards a more sustainable automotive industry. This initiative not only protects our oceans but also helps eliminate plastic waste.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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