What we can do for the sea

The sea, covering about 70% of the Earth’s surface, plays a critical role in providing a wide variety of resources and shipping lanes and controlling the climate. However, millions of tons of garbage washing onto our beaches and shorelines not only jeopardize nearby marine life but also trigger maritime disasters of varying scale. We have summed up the green initiatives of SK member companies bent on protecting the marine ecosystem. Why not think about what we can do to keep the sea clean for our posterity and swing into action?

SK innovation has engaged its people in the EnviRun for the Earth (“EnviRun” in short) campaign to keep our planet clean and beautiful. EnviRun campaign means protect our mountain and sea from plastic wastes and trash, main culprits of environmental pollution, to make the Earth a truly beautiful place. The ESG initiative planned by SK innovation has seen its 3rd anniversary this year. This plogging campaign in which participants are invited to pick up garbage while walking or jogging has been joined not only by domestic worksites but also global worksites of SK innovation, spreading its good influence.

Global SK innovation people who joined the EnviRun campaign this March and April

Beyond simply picking up garbage, the EnviRun campaign leads to social value creation by upcycling plastic wastes into everyday goods for those in need. It also evokes positive changes in the awareness and attitude of campaign participants toward the environment, having significant impact on our collective awareness of and attention to climate crisis and environmental protection.

Initially planned as a non-contact outreach initiative in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign has evolved into the annual EnviRun week during which all SK innovation people are called onto join the campaign as well as a variety of associated campaign events where their family members, friends, local residents and business partners are invited to join, being embedded into daily routines and corporate culture of SK innovation’s subsidiaries.

The sea absorbs carbon emitted into the atmosphere and represents the biggest source of proteins needed by mankind. As an environmental company, SK ecoplant has agonized over how to protect the sea and mitigate marine pollution that is going from bad to worse over time. SK ecoplant published an enterprise research report to whip up awareness of marine pollution and promote efforts to address the challenge in June, 2022, working hard at present on controlling marine pollution in Korea and Southeast Asia.

Last year, SK ecoplant focused on the business value of NetSpa, a social venture recycling fishing net waste. The average service life of fishing net used in Korea is about one month. Fishing net waste accounts for as much as about 45% of marine waste whereas over 1.2 million tons of such waste is left unaccounted for in the sea and shorelines around the world every year. The fishing net waste collection system still has room for a lot of improvement, with recycling solutions not up to applicable demand. Marine animals can get tangled up in fishing net waste which poses a direct hazard to their survival and dissolves into fine plastic particles, aggravating marine pollution and causing a wide range of issues.

Marine animals tangled up in fishing net waste

SK ecoplant forged an MoU with NetSpa in 2022 to support the latter’s fishing net waste recycling business, providing fishing net waste collecting vehicles and helping local municipalities to implement trash transport systems. Furthermore, SK ecoplant launched in the first half of 2022 an acceleration program (to foster startups in early business days) which covers both technical and commercial domains to optimize and modularize facilities and identify customers in a bid to help NetSpa to commercialize its solutions and collect and recycling a variety of fishing nets used in other countries as well as Korea. Nylon, one of the high-value-added raw materials, is harvested from fishing net waste collected from around the world and fed as input into textile, car, mobile device/electronic appliance component production processes.

The Fishing Net Waste Recycling Business Partnership MoU signed in 2022
and Fishing net waste collecting vehicle provided by SK ecoplant.

SK ecoplant recently agreed on a partnership to address marine pollution in Southeast Asia. As a starter rolled out a program to collect and recycle plastic waste and fishing net waste in Vietnam which is home to a booming fisheries industry. SK ecoplant will continue to identify and develop new win-win partnership models going forward to prevent marine pollution and foster waste recycling ecosystems.

Consistent with its corporate vision of being a green mobility champion, SK rent-a-car spearheads ESG management practices. The company also remains genuinely committed to creating both environmental and social values and fulfilling social responsibilities for sustainable development and environmental protection, with a wide range of sea-cleaning initiatives. In July 2021, SK rent-a-car adopted Hyeopjae Beach as a pet beach* to ensure that future generations will enjoy a clean sea. Located in the west coast of Jeju Island, Hyeopjae Beach is a tourist attraction visited by numerous visitors each year, blessed with a heavenly scenery of the beautiful island of Biyangdo and a transparent emerald sea.

Launching the first sea and coast-cleaning activity in July, 2021, SK rent-a-car worked on two more similar cleaning activities in October and November of the same year respectively, with more cleaning activities performed in April, August, and November, 2022. In 2023 marking the 35th anniversary of SK rent-a-car, the company picked up marine trash in Hyeopjae Beach in April. SK rent-a-car engaged not only its people but also the local community and plogging organizations in cleaning the pet beach to share a wide range of data and join forces with them to keep the sea and marine economy clean and sustainable.

The company has also launched a series of events in which customers visiting Jeju Island are invited to drop by Hyeopjae Beach, pick up marine trash and post their photos to personal SNS accounts in a bid to improve the awareness of marine trash plogging activities and stimulate the engagement of the general public. Participating customers said in their testimonies that they were proud of being a part of small yet effective environment conservation efforts and seeing their family members and children feeling responsible and waking up to the need for marine environment protection.

We must not take for granted what the sea gives us. Trash littered by individuals pile up over time and dissolves into fine plastic particles, ruining the marine ecosystem. Keeping the sea clean is beyond the personal effort of any individual. Keep an eye of the footsteps of SK member companies shaping a more beautiful sea together.