Shippers seeking to choose ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ transport are being put off by the confusion of initiatives and promises offered by logistics and transport companies, says Andrew Traill, Shippers' Voice Managing Partner.
“The lack of a common programme results in a proliferation of calculation methodologies, carbon calculators, sustainability initiatives and so on,” he explains. “This usually leads to increased effort and cost for companies to assess carbon emissions of transportation and also hampers collaboration with other companies in the supply chain." Dr Traill welcomes the latest initiative to de-mystify the current situation, with a European Shippers' Council forum called ‘Greening the Maritime Logistics Supply Chain’ on 28 September in Brussels.
“The European Shippers' Council has effectively cried ‘Enough is enough - it is time identify what the schemes are, what they all do and which ones are going to be of use to shippers ‘. Shippers need to know. They need tools to measure their carbon footprint and for that they also need accurate, reliable measures of the carbon footprint of the ships which carry their freight, and the ports and terminals which load and unload the freight and pass the goods on to inland carriers - by road, rail and inland waterways." A group of companies is getting together to try and bring order to this chaos in road freight logistics. For the moment the group is calling itself the SmartWay Europe Working Group, after the Smart Way programme being operated in the US.
Predominantly the companies are transport users, manufacturers and retailers, with a sprinkling of large logistics service providers thrown in. The group has big ambitions to establish a single standard of carbon footprint measurement in Europe , and share best practices which significantly reduce emissions from road freight. Dr Traill wishes the group success and asks: "Do we need more groups like them covering other supply chains, such as the maritime door-to-door supply chain? There is no doubt that a multitude of initiatives exists in this arena also. Perhaps a group already exists that is right to take centre stage; but I just don't know at the moment.” He urges all interested parties to attend the ESC Forum, which he is helping organise. “We have kept the cost down (to €200) to ensure as many people as possible can come. It looks to be an excellent starting point for getting greater clarity and, who knows, a first step to establishing something akin to the SmartWay Europe initiative in road freight logistics - to create a common European and perhaps global standard for measuring emissions of the maritime supply chain and sharing this with shippers."