The impacts of green logistics for the maritime and port sector!

  • 29/12/2020
  • 10 分钟

The topic of sustainability is increasingly in focus. All sectors of activity are undergoing adaptations so that their activities or products harm the environment to a minimum. This is no different with the transportation area, which needs to adapt to green logistics.

The aim is to avoid the impacts that the logistics sector can cause to nature and, thus, make its contribution to the preservation of the environment. These adjustments involve the different modals and, logically, the maritime and port sector is included.

We spoke with Robert Grantham, Consultant and Partner at Solve Shipping Intelligence Specialists, to deepen the conversation about green logistics, its technologies, importance and how it can impact ports and ocean freight. Keep reading!

What is green logistics?

It is important to keep in mind that logistics is not just about transporting products and goods. There are many steps in this sector, including storage and final collection. Therefore, there is a need to adopt increasingly significant sustainable measures.

All areas of activity are undergoing changes adopting strategies, actions and technologies in order to contribute to the preservation of the environment. In the case of green logistics, it refers to the adaptations of the logistics sector to achieve this objective.

It consists of seeking less polluting or impacting alternatives to continue carrying out its activities with efficiency and quality, but without harming nature. Thus, green logistics is more sustainable.

According to Robert “green logistics must be present from the exit of the factory, through transportation modals, storage and distribution, until the final collection stage, whenever possible”.

Thus, reverse logistics, which allows the collection and return of solid waste produced by the industry in return for itself, is also included among the actions carried out by the sector to minimize aggressions to the environment.

However, there are still other technologies that can be applied for the same purpose. Robert cites, for example, the use of blockchain systems to optimize transactions, eliminate rework, as well as manual and paper tasks.

Other examples cited by the specialist are recyclable or biodegradable packaging, the intensive use of digital controllers, the application of IT to optimize distribution routes and the use of electric vehicles.

How important is green logistics?

We said that green logistics involves different modals, so, to denote its importance, it is interesting to consider global emissions of CO₂ (carbon dioxide). Robert explains that “a container ship emits 3 grams of CO₂ per tonne-kilometer, while a truck, 89 g and an airplane, 435 g”.

Thus, we can see that the maritime sector is not one of the biggest pollutants and, according to the expert, contributes little to global warming. It is still responsible for 3% of global emissions of carbon dioxide, so measures are being taken to minimize this impact, but we will talk about this bellow.

Considering the logistics sector, in general, the adoption of more sustainable measures is essential to avoid not only air pollution, but also soil and water, including the generation of solid waste. Robert cited a personal example to demonstrate how logistics actions and decisions are critical to minimizing this impact:

“The other day, I received a new washing machine. It came packed with cardboard, styrofoam and plastic. For lack of an adequate manufacturer policy, I was forced to dispose of this material in the trash, knowing, for example, that styrofoam is not reusable and does not decompose”.

Through this report, we are able to perceive the importance of the companies’ action to offer the consumer less polluting consumption alternatives. Here, we see how fundamental reverse logistics is in this regard.

Importance for the company

Changing our field of vision a little, we see that green logistics is fundamental for the survival of the companies themselves. Robert clarifies that “as environmental awareness takes root in the population, we begin to perceive a more demanding consumer, who demands environmentally sustainable products”.

Therefore, sectors and companies that do not go through this adaptation, assuming their environmental responsibility, will suffer impacts such as market loss. “The companies that demonstrate a legitimate commitment to sustainable practices will be more successful and will survive in the long term”, points out the expert.

How does green logistics impact ports?

Robert’s warning is emphatic: “with the pressure for climate problems increasing exponentially, there will be no escape from the issue of environmental conservation. Companies must adapt”. This is already happening in the maritime sector and in ports, through investment in infrastructure and the adoption of new technologies.

One of the changes that has already been implemented was the IMO 2020 rule, which came into force in January of that year. Robert explains that it requires ships to reduce their sulfur emissions from 3.5 to 0.5%.

There are two options for achieving this goal. One of them, according to the expert, is the use of a low sulfur fuel, the so-called LSFO, or the installation of scrubbers, which act as a kind of catalyst.

The logistics in the O&G market, as well as the production of this sector, can also be impacted by this new green wave. After all, according to Robert, there are already several initiatives for adapting fleets, such as the Danish and Norwegian ones, for neutral emission until 2050.

To this end, adjustments are being made to supply ships with biofuels and LNG. In addition, the Zero Emission Services consortium is underway to develop batteries that will equip inland navigation barges on European waterways. Thus the use of fossil fuels will be eliminated completely. The latest breakthrough is an announcement by electric car manufacturer Tesla announcing the launch of electric container barges soon, initially at the request of the ports of Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Antwerp.

With a specific focus on port logistics, we can mention similar initiatives. The expert brings as an example the replacement of the diesel energy source for electricity of equipment such as transtainers and forklifts. According to him, some ports already adopt cold ironing, in which the ship, when docking, turns off its generators and connects to the port’s electrical network.

Despite all these actions, Robert explains that there are challenges for implementing green logistics. One is the managers’ lack of adequate understanding of the importance of these sustainable actions. Second, there is “the lack of properly qualified professionals to implement programs that lead companies to a greater engagement with the green cause”.

Thus, we can consider that green logistics requires efforts to develop and implement new solutions. However, it is a fact that it brings gains for companies, modernizing their structures and operations, in addition to improving the image in the market. In addition, of course, to contribute to the preservation of life on planet Earth.

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