With expanding environmental regulations worldwide and increased customer and stakeholder expectations for sustainability, successful companies are adapting their operating models to not only provide reliable service at a low cost but to do so responsibly.
Although container shipping is one of the most environmentally sustainable modes of transporting cargo used today, the call for improved sustainability continues. Because the industry accounts for one-third of global trade, it has a big environmental footprint. Leaders in the industry continue to seek ways to remain profitable, resilient, and environmentally responsible.
As the ever-growing global demand for imports is unlikely to change, shipping companies are exploring newer, greener methods and technologies to reduce fuel consumption, cut carbon emissions, and soften their environmental impact. Here, we’ll explore some of the most current environmental sustainability trends in the container shipping industry.
Sustainability Trends in the Container Shipping Industry
An emerging trend in environmental sustainability throughout all industries is the expectation for transparency. Consumers and businesses aren’t just looking for efficiency and reliability; there is also the expectation for potential partners’ environmental responsibility.
More now than ever, retailers, customers, and stakeholders expect a new level of accountability with the people they do business with. When choosing a company to work with, many now expect to hear about the changes you have made and will make to reduce your carbon footprint.
As a result, companies are becoming increasingly transparent about their environmental footprint and are setting big goals to invest in clean energy and environmentally friendly processes, such as fuel-efficient ship design and propellers and rudders that do not damage the marine environment.
Reduction of Energy Consumption
One of the primary ways individuals, governments, and companies can reduce their carbon footprint is by reducing the amount of fuel they consume.
Shipping companies are making significant changes to how they operate and construct ships to cut carbon emissions and improve the planet.
Many shipping companies are reducing fuel consumption by what’s called “slow steaming” or running a ship at a slower speed to improve fuel efficiency. Used initially to help cut costs, slow steaming has become an increasingly important environmental trend in the shipping industry for being as simple as it is effective.
More Efficient Ship Hulls
The shape of a ship’s hull directly affects how efficiently it performs and how much fuel it uses. Increasingly, newly built cargo ships are forgoing the traditional, rounded hull design for more streamlined, efficient shapes that reduce friction between the vessel and the water, creating optimal propulsion while using less fuel.
Modern-day technologies allow us to predict weather and maritime conditions like never before. Shipping companies have learned that they can make more informed decisions about the most efficient route for a ship by carefully analyzing such data.
Avoiding a route plagued by inclement weather, rough seas, or high winds can significantly reduce the amount of fuel needed to complete a voyage. By choosing the most energy-efficient routes, shipping companies can reduce costs and speed up delivery times, as well as minimizing their environmental impact.
While reducing fuel consumption is an effective way to reduce carbon emissions, as one of the globe’s largest carbon fuel consumers, the shipping industry continues to seek alternatives to high-carbon fuel.
New advances in low-carbon fuel are promising. By stripping away impurities in the fuel like sulfur and ash, environmental toxicity is vastly decreased. By using low-carbon fuels, cargo ships can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
More environmentally friendly technological advances are also changing the way shipping companies operate their fleets.
Better Propulsion Efficiency
The more quickly and efficiently a ship moves through the water, the less fuel it consumes, and the less carbon it emits.
For example, when installed on a ship, the Hi-FIN, produced by Hyundai Heavy Industries, improves cargo ships’ performance by creating swirls to counteract those generated by the propeller. This decreases drag and saves 2.5% of the fuel typically used. It’s a simple option that helps reduce air pollution in a cost-effective way for the company.
SkySails are another relatively simple, inexpensive new invention similar to a large kite. When attached to a cargo ship, the SkySail can help tow the ship using limitless wind power, taking significant strain off its engine.
SkySails also help to increase the efficiency of propulsion, lowering fuel needs, and cutting emissions.
The Future of Sustainability
Being environmentally-friendly is an essential aim for every shipping company. The increased expectation for global sustainability is motivating lasting change in the industry from improved ship design to alternative fuel sources. By reducing their carbon footprint, the container shipping industry is demonstrating its commitment to the environment.
At Asiana USA, we understand the complexities of the ever-evolving maritime market. We can help you navigate the opportunities for improved efficiency, reduced transportation costs, and positive environmental impact.