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Dutch multinationals demand more transparent CO2 reporting per container

On the back of successful biofuel trials onboard the 18,000 teu Mette Maersk from Rotterdam to Shanghai last year, the Danish carrier has launched a new product called ECO Delivery, while six of the Netherlands’ largest conglomerates have committed to use the emerging fuel more often and are demanding carriers become more transparent with their emissions per container.

The biofuel pilot project was initiated by the Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition (DSGC) with Shell supplying the fuel and Maersk coming onboard with one of its largest ships.

The DSCG features FrieslandCampina, Heineken, Philips, DSM, Shell, and Unilever as members.

The trials saw the ship used a fuel containing 20% used cooking oil, something Shell is now working to up to 50% on future projects. Shell is also working with other shipping companies, including MSC and Van Oord, on more biofuel projects.

During the pilot project with the Mette Maersk, a business model was developed that allocates the yield and costs of the use of biofuel to individual containers.

Maersk maintains some customers are willing to pay for goods by individual container if these containers are transported in a greener, more sustainable manner. For this reason, Maersk has launched the commercial product ECO Delivery in the market. The fashion retail group H&M has already agreed to procure this product.

The fuel – described in a release from DSCG as a bridging one on the path to decarbonisation – is now being developed further with Shell working on various waste streams to create the blend, including straw, wood, reeds, and bamboo.

The DSCG is determined to get more of its shipping partners to use biofuel, stating that free market mechanisms will come into play as biofuels are, the association believes, on track to become cheaper than normal bunker fuel.

Additionally, the DSCG pointed out that more and more large companies are driving more sustainable business models by internally implementing a carbon shadow price, which allows them to value CO2 emission reductions in investment decisions.

The members of DSGC are working with the BICEPS Network to make CO2 emissions per container far more transparent. The BICEPS Network is a group of shippers pushing for a more sustainable shipping sector. With the support of the DSGC, the network is developing a business model to see how CO2 emission savings on shipping a container can be allocated to the company using that container and to analyse how the application of carbon credits and/or carbon pricing will influence the model.

In the release, DSCG noted: “One of the directions is to translate a commercial surcharge for a CO2-neutral shipping unit (TEU) into ‘Cost per Tonne of CO2 saved’. This will enable comparison with carbon pricing incentives and other potential investments to reduce emissions.”

All members of DSGC, which features eight of the largest Dutch multinationals, have formulated objectives to achieve climate-neutral supply chains. As well as working with an internal price to value each tonne of CO2, the eight Dutch multinationals are also developing methods for mapping transparent climate-related risks and CO2 emissions.

Container shipping has been castigated for years over its inability to provide accurate CO2 emissions per container shipped.

A report from Copenhagen analysts Sea-Intelligence published in December branded existing carrier CO2 calculators as “useless”, pointing out that shippers could reduce their CO2 footprint by 77% by switching from one carrier to another – even though the container would move on the same vessel as both carriers are part of the same alliance.

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Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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