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DB Schenker and Maersk partner to fight ocean pollution


Copenhagen, Denmark — One of the world’s largest ocean freight carriers is committing to more sustainable transportation with the support of one of the world’s leading forwarders.

With the goal of creating more sustainable, environmentally-friendly transportation networks around the globe, DB Schenker and Maersk formed a partnership in 2014.

“We’re on the same page with our carriers and the transportation providers who are striving for higher levels of environmental sustainability and less pollution,” says Andrea Schön, DB Schenker’s Corporate Climate Protection Manager.

“We work together to hold the flag,” Schön adds, “and are putting our heads together to come up with better fuel products like non-fossil and low sulfur fuel blends.”

As part of the partnership DB Schenker and Maersk agreed to establish a CO2 target to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% per container transported from 2014-2020 for DB Schenker’s business with Maersk. As a result of Maersk’s fuel efficiency efforts, we met this target in 2018 – 2 years early.

As a worldwide logistics specialist, DB Schenker helps to generate a lot of transportation activity around the globe. For more than 10 years, the company has been working closely with Maersk and other transportation providers to better understand how the entities can work together to help reduce emissions and decrease ocean pollution.

Sustainability transcends just transportation. In fact, climate change was a major theme at this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, where panel discussions on global warming, ocean sustainability, and biodiversity all drew large crowds.

“The top three issues on Davos official agenda all relates to climate change,” says Mads Stensen, Senior Sustainability Advisor at Maersk, which is, like DB Group, committed to attaining carbon neutrality by 2050. “This really shows how key stakeholders are ramping up their climate change agendas.”

Take the IMO’s 0.5% mass by mass (m/m) global sulfur cap on fuel content (down from a current 3.5%), for example. On track for a January 1, 2020 enforcement date, shipowners and operators around the world are now trying to figure out the best way to comply with the new regulations. DB Schenker and Maersk are working together—and involving other entities in the charge—to comply with IMO 2020 and to help shippers manage the upcoming change.

For Maersk to achieve its sustainability goals, Stensen says carbon-neutral vessels must be made commercially-viable by 2030. Equally as vital will be an acceleration in new innovations and adoption of new technologies, both of which will help ocean carriers attain their sustainability goals.

“We’ve been focused on improving fuel efficiency and reducing pollution for more than 10 years now thanks to higher fuel prices and a bigger emphasis being placed on sustainability and low-carbon,” says Stensen, who estimates that Maersk has almost cut emissions per container transported in half.

As those CO2 emissions were reduced, Maersk’s business was growing—a reality that’s put the ocean carrier back to square one with its sustainability efforts. “We knew that we needed a different approach,” says Stensen, referring to the company’s new zero carbon 2050 commitment. “We see ourselves as the leaders in the shipping industry; if leaders don’t get out there and do this, who will?”

DB Schenker is taking a similar approach by working closely with shippers and carriers that want to operate more sustainable supply chains while also adhering to new regulations. And because the world’s transportation needs will only continue to grow, Schön says gaining a deeper understanding of what the industry can do—and where it needs external regulation and involvement of the entire supply chain—is critical.

“Ocean shipping transports around 85% of the world’s cargo and generates a lot of pollution along the way,” says Schön. “That opens the doors for ocean carriers and logistics providers to align and drive those numbers down together with all actors and stakeholders in the supply chain.”

Noting that Maersk’s sustainability strategy and program goes beyond CO2 emissions and better fuel economy, Stensen says the ocean carrier also has clear priorities around material issues such as ship recycling; fighting food loss; health, safety, security and environment (HSSE); human and labor rights; and anti-corruption.

Stensen sees shipper involvement as the key to success in the sustainability arena, where it just makes sense for companies to work together toward the common good.

“We won’t make it if our customers don’t get involved, if investors don’t support the effort, and if technology providers don’t help us develop new ways to achieve our goals,” Stensen says. “More and more companies are joining us on this journey, but we need more of them to get involved.”