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Three submerged scuba divers bringing a ghost net up from deep blue waters.
Green project

Celebrating Earth Day 2023 with Healthy Seas

6 minute read

This Earth Day, we are kicking off a third year of activities with Healthy Seas to raise awareness about plastic waste in our oceans, educate the next generation, empower local communities, and do our bit to tackle the problem. Read on to find out more about our upcoming kick-off event in Barcelona, our joint ocean clean-up projects of the last three years and Hyundai’s proactive contribution to creating a circular economy.

Did you know that 400 million tons of plastic waste are produced globally in a year? Or, that around 8 million pieces of plastic wastes make their way into our oceans every day?

As the Earth’s life support, our oceans hold 97% of our planet’s water and the extent of today’s plastic pollution has wide-ranging consequences for us all. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, plastic pollution “threatens food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism, and contributes to climate change . ” With so much plastic still being produced around the world, it’s an issue that needs our urgent attention.

Close-up image of a ghost net, covered in algae and debris, that is being pulled to the surface.

Celebrating our third year with Healthy Seas in Barcelona

In 2023, the theme for Earth Day is ‘Invest in our Planet’, and we’re happy to say that we are doing just that with our partner Healthy Seas for the third year in a row. We kick off this year’s clean-up projects in Tossa de Mar on the 25th and 26th of April. Coincidentally, we will also be celebrating Healthy Seas’ 10th Anniversary!

The launching harbor of our mission is Barcelona, the capital city of the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain. Catalonia is applauded for environmental protection initiatives that date back to the 20th century like the Carta De Tossa, a charter signed by coastal towns in 1998. The communities’ principal business is tourism, and they are therefore directly impacted by clean-up initiatives like those of Healthy Seas and Hyundai.

A scuba diving boat with three divers on each edge leaving the Catalonian coast on deep blue waters.
Three divers standing among diving equipment getting geared up to retrieve the ghost nets.

Catalonia’s 200-kilometer-long coastline, called Costa Brava, is a diver’s paradise, home to nature parks and marine reserves. Despite its natural beauty, its waters hide a large amount of lost fishing gear, a reminder of the region’s past fishing-based economy. In fact, those seas are one of Spain’s most polluted areas. There, just a 15-minute boat ride from Tossa de Mar, the local Ghost Diving Spain chapter has identified large fishing nets that are destroying a reef. It is precisely these nets, 33 meters below the surface of the water, that our clean-up efforts will remove from the marine protected area.

After gathering in Barcelona on the 25th of April, all parties involved in the retrieval of the fishing nets will head to Tossa de Mar to begin the mission of untangling and removing the nets from the seafloor. Once retrieved, the weight of the massive nets will be added to the list of plastic waste that Healthy Seas has retrieved with the help of Hyundai and local supporters. Even in vast waters and great depths, we can make a difference by working together.

Read on to find out about our 2021 and 2022 clean-up efforts with Healthy Seas.

We are very appreciative of our partnership with Hyundai because it enables us to undertake projects that positively impact the environment on a scale that we could have never imagined. –VERONIKA MIKOS DIRECTOR OF HEALTHY SEAS

The “net” result

When we first joined forces with Healthy Seas back in 2021, we undertook a joint ocean clean-up project in Ithaca, Greece. With the help of a team of 45 participants, 20 divers, and 15 organizations, four beaches and two bays were cleaned to a depth of 30 meters, and five tons of fishing nets, 32 tons of metal, and 39 tons of plastic waste, including 150 bags of polystyrene foam beads, were recovered!

Later that year, we also planned activities like beach clean-ups, ocean clean-ups, and educational programs for children in Ithaca in Greece, Ijmuiden in the Netherland, the Italian Lampedusa, Newcastle in the UK , the Norderney in Germany, and Tossa de Mar in Spain .

Then, in 2022, we organized another series of activities aimed at cleaning our oceans and beaches, including beach and underwater clean-ups to remove abandoned fishing gears and also educational programs for school children and members of local communities to learn more about marine conservation, sustainable lifestyles, and the circular economy.

Man giving Healthy Seas presentation to children surrounded by people in Ithaca, Greece.

In May 2022, we also joined Healthy Seas in Ithaca again to finish what we had started. Together with local communities and authorities, we launched another big clean-up project and educational activities and cleaned 14 spots around the island – recovering 18.5 tons of ghost nets and 5 tons of other marine litter.

What’s more, we also joined forces with Enaleia , a Greek NGO to help the organization incentivizing local fishermen to pause their regular fishing activities and collect marine plastic, especially during the breeding season when fish need protection from overfishing.

Our efforts did not stop here. Restoring marine life also continued in Italy, France, Netherlands, England, South Korea, and more. Starting from Tossa de Mar, we will be visiting more locations this year and beyond.

Scuba diver in red and black in murky, light-blue waters detaching the ghost net from the seabed.

Reimagining plastic waste as a luxury material

Thanks to our efforts with Healthy Seas over the past two years, we have recovered many tons of fishing nets and other materials from the sea. But the question remained about what to do with this waste. So, we’ve turned our attention to creating a circular economy by finding ways to reuse and recycle these materials to keep them out of the sea.

In fact, Healthy Seas’ founding partner Aquafil is regenerating the recovered fishing nets together with other nylon waste to make ECONYL® yarn, which is used in many things including fashion, apparel, and even the floor mats of the IONIQ 6 . For every ton of ECONYL® yarn produced, seven tons of crude oil and six and a half tons of carbon emissions are saved. The potential impact of a fully circular economy is huge.

Man in orange and black scuba suit sitting on the edge of a boat holding the ghost net a diver just brought up.
Gray IONIQ floor mat with a swatch of ghost net, white nylon pellets, and a roll of black ECONYL yarn.

Since the launch of the IONIQ 5 in 2021, customers in Europe have had the chance to outfit their fully-electric IONIQ 6 and IONIQ 5 with sustainable floor mats made from ECONYL® yarn. And we are currently expanding the use of this and other regenerated material to future vehicles, like diverse sustainable materials for various features in the IONIQ 6’s interior and exterior, as well as amongst branded products and gifts.

Moreover, since 2019, Hyundai has been reimagining car materials for use in fashion with Re:Style . Re:style is an upcycling clothing collection that uses eco-friendly material from old cars to recycled plastic bottles, sugar cane, grain, and oil – everything that would otherwise be thrown away is reborn. Together with famous fashion designers, Re:style creates collections that particularly appeal to “conscious fashionistas.”

IONIQ 6 customers have the option of outfitting their cars with sustainable floor mats made with ECONYL® fibre. We will continue to integrate ECONYL® yarn into our upcoming products to drive a circular economy and support our vision of Progress for Humanity. – MICHAEL COLE, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF HYUNDAI MOTOR EUROPE

Rear view of a sleek, dark-gray IONIQ 6 driving toward hills basking in a golden sunset.

It’s time to invest in our planet

Earth Day 2023 is all about investing in our planet. The aim is to bring together governments, institutions, businesses and 1 billion citizens to do their part for our planet by investing whatever they can in building a more sustainable future. To get involved this April, visit the Earth Day website , download the toolkit, and look for events and activities near you.

Our ongoing partnership with Healthy Seas is part of the global 'Hyundai Continue' initiative. Launched in January 2022, Hyundai Continue encompasses a variety of global Creating Shared Value (CSV) activities that are being carried out with local communities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world. It provide a chance for us to solidify our commitment to restoring our oceans, investing in our planet, and building a better future.

Want to join us in Tossa De Mar or on our next ocean clean-up with Healthy Seas? Follow @hyundai on Instagram and experience the clean-up firsthand through screen-recordings and our personal point-of-view perspective on your very own phone.


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