Survey Launched to Determine the Environmental Impact of Ocean-Going Product Shipments

Nov. 13, 2003
Nemo might be finding the oceans are a little cleaner, if a survey conducted by companies like Chiquita Brands Inc., Great White Fleet Ltd., Hapag-Lloyd Container Line, Hewlett Packard Co., Home Depot Inc., IKEA, "K" Line, L.L. Bean Inc., Maersk Sealand, Mattel Inc., New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., NIKE Inc., NYK Line, P&O Nedlloyd and Teragren LLC, does its job.

The Clean Cargo Environmental Performance Survey for shippers was developed by members of the Business for Responsibility's Clean Cargo Group, a worldwide committee consisting of multinational corporations who have voluntarily developed environmental guidelines for ocean transportation.

Transportation ranks alongside electricity generation and manufacturing as one of the three most significant sources of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As global trade increases, GHG emissions from ocean vessels are also expected to rise. BSR Clean Cargo Group participants, who together represent approximately 33 percent of containerized cargo carriers and 20 percent of the top 50 U.S. importers of containerized cargo by volume, collaborated on developing the survey, which was announced at the Business for Social Responsibility Annual Conference.

"The aim of the survey is to provide shippers and carriers with a common reporting tool to begin examining the overall environmental impacts associated with ocean transportation," explains Michelle Lapinski, BSR Senior Manager, Business and Environment. "The hope is that this survey will lead to better communication between carriers and their customers about fuel efficiency and related environmental improvements that can be sought over time. It's a powerful tool in helping to identify collaborative approaches to environmental management."

The survey is a supply-chain management tool for manufacturers and retailers establishing a set of environmental indicators and reporting standards for ocean-going carriers who transport their companies' products. The survey includes a set of metrics along with practical steps to help companies understand and measure environmental impacts. Among its potential benefits, the survey will help ocean carriers and their customers assess options for increased fuel efficiency, which in turn will lower emissions and help improve air quality.

"We are committed to achieving high environmental standards," said Jeffrey D. Brown, senior vice president, Global Supply Chain Operations, Chiquita Brands Inc. "As members of the Clean Cargo Group, we believe we have an opportunity to learn from other environmentally conscious companies and help raise awareness and commitment to environmental responsibility in the shipping industry."

The collaboration between customers and suppliers benefits both parties by establishing industry-supported methodologies for reporting and calculating environmental performance. The partnership developed while creating the survey will enable companies to work together to address multiple environmental impacts of shipping products, as well as find cost-effective and mutually beneficial solutions.

"HP established a supplier evaluation program for environmental performance over 10 years, but to date has not included carriers, due primarily to a lack of carrier specific criteria," said Paul Quickert, Regulatory Tracking & Compliance manager. "For ocean freight carriers, the Clean Cargo Group not only satisfied that need by partnering with carriers to develop the criteria, it secured the endorsement of some of the top ocean freight carriers in the world in the process."

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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