Volvo is joining the movement to combat plastic pollution with a ground-breaking recycling project designed to help marine life in Sydney Harbour.

It has unveiled plans to develop and install specially designed tiles to create an artificial mangrove attached to a “Living Seawall”.

The Living Seawall, featuring 50 tiles each measuring 55cm x 55cm, will be installed in Sydney Harbour to create one of the world’s largest living seawalls.

The tiles are made from concrete reinforced with recycled plastic fibres and mimic the root structure of mangroves trees that used to be prolific around the harbour.

Using 3D printing technology to create the moulds, tiny alcoves are etched into the tile design to give oysters, fish and filter feeding organisms a place to live and thrive just as they would in a natural habitat.

“With eight million tonnes of plastic finding their way into our oceans each year, researchers agree that simply ‘cleaning’ the ocean and removing all of the plastic is not feasible,” Managing Director of Volvo Car Australia, Nick Connor, said.

“Solving the scourge of plastic pollution requires different thinking and local innovative solutions.”

The project was unveiled earlier this week to coincide with World Environment Day.

Volvo has collaborated with several partners to create the Living Seawall, including Reef Design Lab, a Melbourne-based eco-engineering design studio, Emesh by Fibercon and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science.

Associate Professor at Macquarie University and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Melanie Bishop, said 50 per cent of the world’s mangroves have been lost due to urban development.

“In their place we’ve built things like seawalls, which proliferate around Sydney Harbour. The Living Seawall adds complexity to the existing seawall structure and will provide a rich habitat for marine life. The more organisms we have, the more water can be filtered and the cleaner our oceans become.”

For more details about the ‘Living Seawall’ project visit;

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Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.