Living Sea Wall An Ocean Conservation Project


Our oceans are in distress

One garbage truck of plastic enters the world’s ocean every minute, and more than half of Sydney’s shoreline is artificial. Rich, vibrant habitats have been replaced with seawalls and degraded by plastic pollution.

The Volvo Ocean Race has been hosting beach clean-ups all over the world to help combat plastic pollution. But while they’re important, beach clean-ups alone aren’t enough to save our oceans.

Volvo beach plastic


One of the world’s largest Living Seawalls

Built with concrete reinforced with 100 percent recycled plastic, the Living Seawall adds complexity to the existing seawall structure and provides a habitat for marine life. This aids biodiversity and attracts filter-feeding organisms that actually absorb and filter out pollutants - such as particulate matter and heavy metals - keeping the water ‘clean’. The more organisms we have, the cleaner the water.


The tiles are made using concrete reinforced with 100 percent recycled plastic fibres. These increase the strength and durability of the concrete, making use of a material that would otherwise harm the environment.


The Living Seawall consists of 50 tessellating tiles designed to mimic the root structure of mangrove trees. Each tile is made using 3D printing technology and installed on an existing seawall structure in Sydney Harbour.


Oysters, molluscs, and filter-feeding organisms colonise the Living Seawall within a week of installation. These help 'clean' the water.


For the next 20 years, the Living Seawall will help combat the effects of pollution and urbanisation.

Re-thinking sustainability

There’s a Swedish word, omtanke, that means ‘caring’ and ‘consideration’. It also means ‘to think again’. That’s what the Living Seawall is all about.

Volvo is committed to supporting World Environment Day with projects like the Living Seawall and beach clean-ups, but our sustainability programme doesn’t end there.

By the end of 2019, Volvo Cars will remove single-use plastics from all its of offices, canteens and events across the globe. This will replace over 20 million single-use plastics with sustainable alternatives.

We’ve also committed to electrification, with a goal of putting 1 million electric cars on the road by 2025, and to fostering productive partnerships. Volvo Cars is an active supporter of the UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign and a founding member of the UN Global Compact.

Solving environmental problems requires radical and divergent thinking. To protect the environment, we need to re-think sustainability and challenge convention.That’s what we’re doing. That’s who we are.

Bringing the Living Seawall to life


Partnerships are the cornerstone of our sustainable development programme. The Living Seawall would not have been possible without the contribution of industry leaders and experts.

Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS)
Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS)

SIMS is a multidisciplinary marine science facility dedicated to advancing research into our marine environment. As initiators of the World Harbour Project, SIMS pioneers research into the health and conservation of urbanised waterways.


The REEF DESIGN LAB is an award-winning design studio based in Melbourne, Australia. Focusing on ecologically enhancing marine infrastructure, REEF DESIGN LAB assisted in the design and production of the Living Seawall.

Emesh by Fibercon
Emesh by Fibercon

An Australian innovation, Emesh by Fibercon upcycles plastic to the deliver innovative reinforced concrete used to create the Living Seawall.

More projects by Volvo

Our commitment to sustainability

Supporting research

Supporting research

Sales of the V90 Cross Country Volvo Ocean Race car fund the Race’s innovative Science Programme, which uses sensors on the boats to measure levels of ocean microplastics. This information helps us understand the health of our oceans.

Smarter, recoverable cars

When we design our cars, we think deeply about how they impact the environment - and how we can reduce that impact. The textile interior mats of the XC40 area made from recycled plastic bottles, and we recycle and remanufacture just about all Volvo cars.
Smarter recoverable cars

Sustainable operations

By 2025, we aim to put 1 million electrified cars on the road and achieve ‘carbon neutral’ manufacturing operations. This global commitment will be achieved by securing climate neutral energy supplies, and through energy efficiency initiatives.

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