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VOLVO Cars Australia has commemorated UN World Environment Day earlier this week by unveiling a solution designed to help the marine life around Sydney harbour, using environmentally friendly materials.

The Swedish manufacturer is planning to develop and install specially designed tiles to create a living seawall that will help facilitate the growth of mangrove trees that once proliferated Sydney harbour.

The living sewall is made up of 50 tiles measuring 55cm x 55cm, created using 3D printing and made from concrete reinforced with recycled plastic fibres to mimic the root structure of mangroves.

With tiny alcoves etched into the design, marine life such as oysters, fish and filter feeding organisms are able to form habitats and thrive in the harbour, the company says.

The seawall will be installed and monitored over the coming months.

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

Reef Design Lab industrial designer Alex Goad said the installation was about turning an environmental negative into a positive.

“Living seawall shows what could be done when we’re designing and building coastal structures around the world.

“Living Seawall flips a harmful structure into a marine habitat and presents a unique opportunity to research which specific designs and geometries are the best to support the ecosystems in our oceans.”

Volvo Cars Australia managing director Nick Connor said the innovative solution mirrored Volvo’s approach to sustainability.

“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.

“There is a Swedish word, omtanke, which means ‘caring’ and ‘consideration’. But it also means ‘to think again’.

“I think this really captures what we are trying to achieve with the Living seawall and it sums up Volvo’s approach to sustainability and design in general.”

As for sustainability in the automotive world, Volvo aims to put one million electrified cars on the road by 2025, while achieving carbon-neutral manufacturing operations.

By Robbie Wallis