It’s time to go green

Introduction

It goes without saying that the shipping industry has undergone some significant changes over the years. Technological developments have helped terminal operators and carriers transport cargo more efficiently than ever before, but now is the time to begin really enhancing the industry’s ‘green’ image. As people around the world become more aware of the global environmental problems, they are demanding more sustainable products and services. As a result, to satisfy their customers’ needs, cargo owners are beginning to look closer than ever before at the performance of the entire supply chain of products – from the manufacturing line to the ships used to transport the goods.

Greening the logistics industry

Everyone involved in the logistics industry knows that shipping is one of the most energy efficient ways of transporting goods. However, shipping is also still associated with a number of unwanted side effects. Ships produce many harmful emissions, with greenhouse gases, sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides ending up in the air, whilst waste, heavy chemicals from antifouling, cleaning agents and lubricants end up in our oceans.

It is not just shipping companies that hold the key for a future of sustainable shipping. Terminal operators can facilitate efficient and clean shipping by acting as green service hubs. This should help make them a preferred location for cargo owners with a green agenda.

Due to slow rule making in the past, the shipping industry’s reputation is somewhat damaged. With the new, more stringent regulations from both the IMO and the EU regarding the fuel sulphur content on short sea routes in northern European waters, this might begin to change. The difficulty for shipping lines is how they implement these changes, with so many different laws affecting them in different areas of the world. As ships become ‘greener’, terminal operators will be looking to improve their own carbon footprint by attracting the most environmentally friendly vessels. One example of this can be seen at the Port of Gothenburg, which announced last year that it would repay up to 60,000 SEK (about US$8,800) of the port charge to the first twenty vessels meeting the new targets set by the Clean Shipping Index.

Technological innovation

Since its development, the internet has helped a wide variety of industries revolutionize the way they do business and the shipping industry is no different. Twenty years ago, it would be a mere dream for cargo owners to be able to look up a price or a schedule online, get an instant overview of availability, receive an instant booking confirmation and track incoming cargo. This is now becoming the norm.

Today, we can go even further than that and cargo owners can now use online databases to choose which carrier to use, based on their ‘green’ credentials, whilst terminal operators can use the same tools to measure the environmental performance of the ships that use their services.

 

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Sara Sköld, director and environmental specialist at the Clean Shipping Project, Lund, Sweden
Edition: Edition 54

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