Is Sustainable Shipping the Wave of the Future?

Shipping goods by sea, or maritime transport, is critical to the world’s economy. More than 90% of the world's trade is navigated across our ocean and waterways. Not only is it the most popular way to conduct trade, but it’s also an extremely cost-effective way to move bulky items—or items in bulk—around the globe. Because of the popularity of maritime transport, sustainable shipping, which aims to reduce its ecological footprint of sea transport vessels, has been at the forefront of many environmental discussions.

Why is Sustainability Important in Shipping?

Recent events, such as the major oil spill around the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius that has Sir Richard Branson calling for big changes in global shipping, have been part of the impetus for increased talk over sustainable shipping. Of course, there is no shortage of maritime oil disasters, which Marine Insight highlighted earlier this year, which are devastating to the environment and marine creatures.

Of course, it’s not just the big disasters that have people concerned. According to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the global merchant fleet is responsible for about 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions (the equivalent to the annual emissions of a major developed country like Germany). By 2050, if no action is taken, these fleets will account for 17% of global shipping CO2 emissions.

As a result, many initiatives are in the works, such as the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI). With members including charterers, shipowners/shipyards, ports/port operators, banks, ship finance/insurance providers, classification societies, and technology companies, the SSI is truly “a multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together like-minded and leading organizations with shared goals and equal determination in improving the sustainability of the shipping industry in terms of social, environmental and economic impacts.” To learn more about the initiative’s vision for 2040 for checking out the SSI Roadmap

5 Sustainable Shipping Innovations and Solutions

What are some of the latest sustainable shipping innovations and solutions? These five green shipping initiatives, which you can read more about on the Solar Impulse Foundation (SIF) website, could really make an environmental impact!

1. Reeferpulse

This predictive maintenance solution detects reefer (refrigerated container) issues, saving food and energy wasted during maritime shipping. It works through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning and can predict energy use with ±1% error rate, for any reefers traveling anywhere in the world. Additionally, it can adapt to any systems or cooling technology, and learn quickly without human supervision.

2. Rotor Sails

Rotor Sails are an auxiliary wind propulsion system that reduces the fuel consumption of commercial shipping vessels. They reduce the fuel consumption of the ship, in turn reducing emissions and fuel costs between 5-20%. This solution is viable for approximately 25,000 vessels across the globe, including bulk carriers, tankers, and passenger ships.

3. Shore-to-Ship Power

This state-of-the-art electrification solution makes ports more sustainable by reducing emissions from ships while berthed. When vessels arrive into port, they can turn off on-board diesel generators and connect to the port electrical grid, seamlessly transferring the shore-side power supply and reducing their environmental footprint. Shore-to-ship power eliminates all local polluting emissions by vessels and noise generated by auxiliary engines.

4. Smart Container

This AI-powered shipping container provides end-to-end visibility and traceability. With this solution, logistics stakeholders can reduce their risks and act proactively on events throughout the supply chain. The Smart Container reduces transportation costs while monitoring what is happening in real-time to the container and the cargo inside. It’s also insulated for the transport of sensitive goods.

5. Vessel Energy Fuel Efficiency

This unique solution is focused on reducing fuel consumption to cut emissions and increase. It works by using machine learning to analyze data gathered from embedded sensors during ship navigation to reduce the EEOI (Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator) and CO2 emissions. Its three interconnected lines of work are performance efficiency, anomaly detection, and routing strategies.

How TFL Practices Sustainable Shipping

While the team at The Fulfillment Lab isn’t developing AI-power shipping containers or new wind-powered sails, we care about the environment and do what we can to help out. Many boxes that we use are made of recycled fibers and considered sustainable packaging, and depending on the needs of our clients, we do our best to recycle returned items, saving useful parts and repairing or refurbishing others for resale.

When it comes to sustainable order fulfillment, we also try to minimize our environmental footprint, which is why we have 14 international facilities. This helps us to keep much of our global shipping land-based.

To learn more about what TFL can do for you as your strategic fulfillment center, contact us today.

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