About 60 people gathered in Biarritz to clear mounds of trash from the beach in a partnership between Swiss watchmaker Breitling and the Surfrider Foundation, based in Southern California.
An environmental partnership agreement between the two groups was announced Thursday during the annual Wheels and Waves festival that is taking place over five days along southwestern France’s coastal Basque region. The annual festival, which ends on June 25, is a mixture of motorcycles, surfing, skating and concerts.
Breitling said part of its sustainability commitment is to eliminate plastic waste, one of the major causes of ocean pollution, from the beaches and waters around the world. The luxury watchmaker, whose collections center around air, land and sea pursuits, has worked with the surf community to identify the most pressing ocean-preservation needs.
“Breitling has always had a strong connection to the sea,” said Georges Kern, Breitling’s chief executive. “Together with Surfrider, we are stepping up the global fight for a clean ocean, not only for today but for future generations.”
Kern with other Breitling executives participated in the cleanup as well as big-wave surfer Mason Barnes and surfer Freddie Meadows.
The Surfrider Foundation was founded by a handful of surfers in Malibu, California, in 1984 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the world’s beaches and oceans. It focuses on water quality, beach access, beach and surf-spot preservation, addressing climate change, and sustaining marine and coastal ecosystems. It is headquartered in San Clemente, California, renowned for its surfing spot called Trestles Beach, made up of five separate surf breaks.
“We are thrilled to welcome Breitling as an official partner in supporting our mission,” said Chad Nelsen, the CEO of the Surfrider Foundation. “We applaud Breitling’s dedication to ocean and coastal conservation efforts. Surfrider is proud to collaborate with a partner committed to global community engagement aimed at preserving clean water and healthy beaches for all.”
Breitling said it would support the Surfrider Foundation in researching and tackling the issue of plastic pollution while participating in beach cleanups around the world. The watchmaker, founded in 1884, also works with a surfing squad of influencers that includes world-renowned Southern California surfer Kelly Slater as well as Australian surfers Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons.
In its effort to eradicate plastic waste from its operations by 2025, Breitling is using watch boxes made of 100 percent recyclable plastics known as PET and introduced a range of watch straps made from salvaged ghost fishing nets.