There has been a major shift in how consumers, stakeholders, and rule-makers have come to expect sustainability. As a result, companies are changing their business models to pursue eco-friendly, responsible, low-cost, reliable practices.
The shipping industry wants to further improve sustainability practices. It is currently among the most sustainable modes for cargo transportation, says Brian Ladin of Delos Shipping, but many company leaders are still looking to lessen their environmental footprint. He says the sustainability response during this time will set apart top shipping companies from the rest of the pack.
Shipping Offers Sustainable Cargo Transportation
Huge ships burning large quantities of oil may not sound environmentally friendly, but shipping provides the transportation method with the smallest carbon produced per ton of cargo moved. In contrast, air transport results in 300x more carbon. While air freight is valuable for items that need to be shipped quickly, ocean freight provides the more earth-friendly option.
The Challenge of Sustainable Shipping
One big challenge obstructing truly sustainable shipping is the demand for speed, says Brian Ladin. With companies like Amazon promising free and fast shipping, it’s difficult for companies to compete and remain responsible. Consumers who want to support eco-friendly shipping will have to support longer shipping times in order to reduce carbon emissions.
Sustainable Shipping Strategies
A recent goal for reducing the carbon footprint as outlined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) included goals for cutting carbon emissions by 50% by 2050. There were only two countries that didn’t want to sign the deal: Saudi Arabia and the United States of America.
IMO says the reduction in air pollution is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which sought to get industrialized countries and economies to commit to better practices. Part of the agreement included supporting developing countries in their efforts to pursue sustainable shipping. This is the first time IMO committed to set goals directly combatting climate change and it is in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Adapting Practices to Meet Sustainability Goals
Companies may wonder how they can make changes to get in line with this goal. According to the IMO, companies who want to get on board can
● Adjust their procedures to decrease carbon usage with an energy-efficient vessel design.
● Reduce carbon dioxide by 40% or more by 2030 and overall carbon emissions by 70% or
more by 2050 on an international level.
● Lessen greenhouse gas emissions by 50% before 2050.
Sustainability Offers a Competitive Advantage
While many US shipping companies currently don’t have to comply, they will gain a higher advantage when choosing environmental responsibility over convenience. Many manufacturers are looking for opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint, partnering with responsible transportation companies. Trucking and aero companies cannot compete with the low carbon ratio emitted by ocean freight companies.
This edge allows companies to differentiate themselves as sustainable partners. Not only is the offer responsible and attractive for the partners, but it is also cost-effective. Companies using ocean shipping solutions can turn greater profits down the road because they are cutting costs with this efficient shipping mode.
The Future of Sustainability in Shipping
One thing Ladin expects to see in the near future is the consideration of renewable energy sources supporting the ships. Solar energy is one example of the kind of renewable source that could power an ocean-going vessel if harnessed correctly. Wind power is another option that has traditionally been used and a more modern approach could help generate energy for other functions on the ships. Innovative fuel solutions, like Plaxx, are being created from recycled plastic for a low-sulfur, environmentally friendly fuel.
Company leaders should be looking forward to making sure they are taking steps towards responsible business practices and policies for the future.
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