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Ahoy! Five Global Shippers Collaborate to Drive Sea Freight Sustainability

This week, five major companies from the beverage and chemical industries announced a collaboration on sustainability initiatives in the shipping sector. FrieslandCampina, AB InBev, AkzoNobel, DSM and Huntsman will join forces under the BICEPS (Boosting Initiatives for Collaborative Emission-reduction with the Power of Shippers) network to create momentum for sustainability improvements in shipping.

The group plans to “develop a common and concurrent approach to sustainability in their procurement of ocean freight and selection of carriers,” according to a BICEPS statement. It will also take steps to streamline compliance and reporting requirements of shippers to carriers. Other shippers are invited to join.

The collaboration supports the companies’ individual sustainability goals as well, such as AB InBev’s goal to reduce carbon emissions in its global logistics operations by 15 percent by the end of 2017 — a first for the brewing industry — and FrieslanCampina’s aim for climate-neutral growth throughout its chain.

“Sharing, learning and joint efforts are the key success factors to maximize and speed up the overall impact, especially within supply chain and logistics,” FrieslanCampina said in a statement. “The BICEPS-network partners together represent a significant amount of shipping demand that can be used to give a boost to change in the right direction.”

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The collaboration comes as the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) warned this week that maritime carbon emissions, which compose approximately 2.2 percent of the global total, could increase to over 5 percent by 2050 if left unchecked.

Chris Welsh, GSF General Secretary, said: “Shipping already offers a high-carbon-efficient mode for transporting goods, carrying approximately 90 percent of all world trade. However, it is predicted to grow significantly in pace with world trade and currently has no regulatory mechanism to restrain the future growth of greenhouse gas emissions."

The BICEPS network adds to other collaborative endeavors to reduce the impact of the shipping industry, such as the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI). The SSI, whose members include AkzoNobel, Unilever, Cargill and Carnival Corporation, among others, has a similar goal to mobilize support across the industry and demonstrate that collaborative action can advance a sustainable future.

Recent research indicates that the shipping industry is making progress on its sustainable aspirations. Last year BSR released a study concluding average carbon emissions for a majority of global ocean container transports have consistently declined in recent years — and by nearly 8 percent between 2012 and 2013.

And reducing environmental impacts above water is critical to protecting what lies beneath. Considering a recent WWF report that values the ocean’s goods and services at over $24 trillion, their protection seems a worthy endeavor.


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