Audi Environmental Foundation: sustainable action against the sea of plastic

What can society and companies do for the environment? That is the question that the Audi Environmental Foundation is tackling. Since 2009, they have supported innovative projects that advance the cause of environmental protection.

11/27/2019 Reading Time: 4 min

10 years Audi Environmental Foundation

A gigantic hawksbill turtle dives silently through the ocean depths — it almost looks as if it were floating in an endless sea of blue. Seconds later, the idyllic scene comes to an abrupt end. The turtle struggles to free itself from the remains of the net that is constricting ever more tightly around its limbs and neck. It’s a sight that marine biologist Robert Marc Lehmann knows well — and one that never becomes less painful to see.

A sobering conclusion: traces of human consumption are everywhere

Robert Marc Lehmann during his presentation

Preaching a sustainable mindset: Robert Marc Lehmann during his presentation at the anniversary celebration “10 years of the Audi Environmental Foundation.”

Over the course of more than 2,500 dives, Lehmann has studied and documented the condition of various aquatic environments. The Audi Environmental Foundation invited the research diver, along with two other speakers, to their anniversary celebration. At the event in Ingolstadt, he presented his sobering conclusion.

Traces of human consumption can even be found in the Arctic Ocean: plastic in all shapes and sizes. Even when it isn’t visible to the naked eye, microscopically small nanoparticles are floating through the oceans of the world. This is how sea turtles, marine birds, and wales perish — by getting trapped in large nets or eating the plastic found in the water. Entire species are falling victim to the deluge of trash.

The Audi Environmental Foundation’s projects to solve the plastic problem

Only one percent of global waste can be collected from the oceans using specially equipped ships. That’s why the Audi Environmental Foundation now supports three projects that work to stop plastic before it lands in the ocean.

Collected waste is used to create landscaped islands.

Sustainable project: the collected waste is used to create landscaped islands.

1. Recycled Islands

In collaboration with the Port of Rotterdam and the Recycled Island Foundation, the Audi Environmental Foundation installed a special collection basin between the port and a canal. It prevents trash from making it into the open ocean. The basin traps around one cubic meter of trash each month.

A Girl on a sustainable SUP

Sustainable paddling: the SUP is made entirely of collected trash.

2. Our Neckar

As part of the project “Our Neckar,” the Audi Environmental Foundation collected trash from the Neckar River in collaboration with students from the city of Heilbronn. The project partner Pogo Boards then used the trash to make a stand up paddle board (SUP).

The board will be used for different clean-up events starting in spring 2020. In this way, the Audi Environmental Foundation encourages people to treat the waterways with respect — and fight the flood of plastic in the oceans at the same time.

Two women collecting garbage while jogging

Jogging for the environment: Audi ist connects jogging and picking up trash.

3. Plogging

The Audi Environmental Foundation organizes regular “plogging” events in their Neckarsulm and Ingolstadt locations. At these events, which originated in Sweden, Audi employees meet to gather trash (“Plocak upp” is Swedish for “pick up”) and go jogging. The end result is usually several sacks full of trash gathered from the streets and nearby city parks. The trash is then given to the local public utility company.

What the Audi Environmental Foundation does

Since its foundation in 2009, the Audi Environmental Foundation has supported numerous projects — including some unusual ones like digital data collection in a beehive. Rüdiger Recknagel, Head of Environmental Protection at AUDI AG, has good reason to be proud: “We are the only car manufacturer with an environmental foundation — and have been for 10 years.”

The foundation supports projects that unite technology and environmental conservation and explore eco-friendly technologies, contribute to environmental education, or advance the cause of biodiversity. The Audi Environmental Foundation kept climate protection in mind when organizing their anniversary event. It was CO2-neutral: in addition to organizational efforts to reduce the event’s carbon footprint, the Audi foundation donated the entirety of the entrance fees it collected to the initiative Plant-for-the-Planet, which used the money for reforestation efforts.

Audi founded the Audi Environmental Foundation in 2009. Its goal is to get people excited about environmental protection and sustainability. The Audi Environmental Foundation provides support for “greenovations” — projects that make use of new technologies to protect the environment. Learn more about the individual projects and funding opportunities.

10 years of environment protection

In the last ten years, a lot has changed in terms of the environment and sustainability — and not just at Audi. At this point, millions of people around the world gather on Fridays to call for a livable future. The German government has added environmental protection to its constitution. The climate change discussion and our responsibility for the environment have become hot topics.

And that’s one of the reasons that Robert Marc Lehmann isn’t giving up on his fight against the deluge of plastic in the water. “The world is worth fighting for” is his motto. To make that happen, we need sustainable companies, environmental projects — and the help of each individual person. “Talk less, do more” is Rüdiger Recknagel’s motto. Everyone can take small steps to protect the environment: buying regionally produced products, avoiding unnecessary packaging, or sharing their passion for sustainability with friends and family.

Speakers at the Audi Environmental Foundation anniversary

The Audi Environmental Foundation invited three pioneers of environmental protection to their ten-year anniversary.

Felix Finkbeiner gives a lecture

Felix Finkbeiner supports his theories with many interesting facts.

Felix Finkbeiner

At 22 years old, Felix Finkbeiner is already an old hand as far as sustainability and environmental protection go. At nine years old, he founded the  initiative Plant-for-the-Planet, which plants trees to absorb CO2. His enthusiasm impressed even the UN, who invited him to present at the general assembly in 2010, when he was 13 years old.

Santa Meyer-Nandi gives a lecture

During her very personal presentation, Santa Meyer-Nandi presents her ideas about sustainability to the captivated audience.

Santa Meyer-Nandi

Santa Meyer-Nandi is co-director of the initiative FindingSustania, which, according to their statement, is searching for true sustainability. She developed a 30-day challenge to help people develop a closer relationship with sustainability. Participants learn to change their behavior in small steps..

Robert Marc Lehmann gives a lecture

“The world is worth fighting for” is his motto.

Robert Marc Lehmann

Robert Marc Lehmann is a marine biologist and an excellent photographer and cinematographer. His images have won multiple awards, and the media calls him the “Robin Hood of the seas.”


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