Plastic collected by The Ocean Cleanup to be used in Kia cars

Kia plans to use recycled plastic from a 55-ton haul recently reclaimed from the Pacific Ocean in its new EV models.

The Ocean Cleanup’s record catch.

The record-breaking amount of plastic reclaimed by Kia’s global partner, The Ocean Cleanup, marks the next phase in a seven-year global partnership agreed in April 2022.

The Ocean Cleanup, the international non-profit project with the mission of ridding the oceans of plastic, landed its plastic catch at Victoria, British Columbia. The record catch was removed from the Pacific Ocean using The Ocean Cleanup’s System 002 extraction technology following a voyage through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP).

Recycling of the plastic will begin shortly, and Kia will use a proportion of the material in future models. This policy aligns with Kia’s commitment to provide sustainable mobility solutions that have a measurable impact on achieving sustainability at scale.

The Ocean Cleanup finds many odd ‘domestic’ items too, such as this toilet seat.

“The record catch of plastic brought to shore by The Ocean Cleanup is tangible proof of how technology can deliver sustainable solutions at scale. Initiatives such as this one perfectly align with Kia’s transition to a sustainable mobility solutions provider and our Plan S strategy, through which we embrace the needs of our customers and the protection of our environment by acting as a responsible corporate citizen,” said Charles Ryu, senior vice-president and head of the Global Brand & CX Division at Kia Corp.

The Ocean Cleanup will soon launch its next collector, System 03. This next iteration of the plastic collection system will begin to address offshore sorting of the plastics, as well as new ways to store what has been collected.

Finding space to store what is collected on deck is a challenge The Ocean Cleanup will tackle in its next round.

“As the amounts grow, compacting the waste becomes more important for transportation offshore as well as onshore. We are currently trialling ways to compact the waste on board our vessels so we can store and transport our plastic smoothly,” said Stella Van Den Berg, The Ocean Cleanup’s catch management director.

She also said the organization plans to move recycling operations to North America to help reduce the environmental impact of operations. “We hope to begin trials by the end of this year. However, recycling solutions of the fibrous plastics (i.e. nets and ropes) have yet to be developed in North America, so this may take some time.”

Because not all of the plastic is mechanically recyclable, there is a fraction of ‘rejects’ which cannot be recycled in this way. Van Den Berg said they are looking into alternative ways of processing, such as hydrothermal carbonization or dissolution. “Once we are catching greater volumes of these plastics, we can begin trialling these solutions and ensure full circularity of our ocean plastic catch,” she added.