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Journey of a green carrier-0000It may be a long journey ahead but Maersk has taken on some real targets to be a “green” carrier.


The dust has yet to settle on Julian Bevis’ desk. The new managing director of Maersk New Zealand has barely hadtime to register how clean and crisp the New Zealand air is compared to his last posting, India.

But Bevis is keen to send this message to Kiwi exporters – those who ship goods to foreign markets have to handle the concerns of global warming and environmental costs.

It is not easy selling this sort of inconvenient truth to clients – that Maersk is serious about carbon emissions (CO2) and is spending time and money on reaching some milestones in reducing its carbon footprint.

It is even less easy trying to tell exporters that at some stage, when green shipping gains momentum, exporters deemed to be conducting business in a non-sustainable way may risk not being able to ship via Maersk.

 FOOD EXPORTERSjourney of a green carrier key takeaways-0000

In mid-July, Bevis made delivered his message to the sustainable Food Exports group (a government initiative formed in 2005 under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade), whose aim is to reduce emissions and environmental impact from New Zealand’s food industries. The group was formerly known as the Food Miles Group.

“AP-Moeller group made a key policy to operate all of its business in a sustainable and environmental way,” he says.  At the meeting, he showed industry and government what Maersk’s green initiatives were.

As part of its green plan, Maersk Line pledged to within 10 years (2007 to 2017) trim its vessels’ COÐ emissions (both owned and charter) by 20% per twenty foot equivalent.

By investing in technologies that enable vessels to operate smarter and therefore reduce CO2, Maersk is hoping it will be at the forefront of helping exporters meet the need to present a sustainable business case.


In 2007, Maersk began to introduce QUEST — software for air sensing technology to help vary the temperature of a reefer (refrigerated container) according to need rather than full-blast cooling. This cooling control system also helps reduce damage caused to containerized commodities.

Based on this system, Maersk has been able to show a reduced CO2 emission of 30 kg per day for a QUEST controlled reefer.  “These initiatives make a lot of sense. For example, we have a system for heat-waste recovery so you are not polluting,” Bevis says. The heat-waste recovery system captures heat from exhaust gas and uses it to provide energy for propulsion as well as onboard electricity.  This typically saves 10% in fuel consumption.

From the caverns of the engine room to ballast water, down to the paint used on a ship, many parts of a Maersk vessel are under scrutiny to help reduce carbon footprints.

In the past, a vessel’s main aim was to sail from port A to port B as fast as possible.  But this is no longer kosher. Speed has to be matched by economics.

So Maersk’s Voyage Efficiency system (VES) calculates the optimal average speed based on the data of vessels already arrived at the next port. This has the potential to reduce fuel consumption and air emissions by around 1%. Sailing at a slower speed and using lower engine loads, Maersk found, can also help save fuel.

Bevis says although the Kyoto Protocol did not cover emissions caused by shipping, shipping lines are engaged with industries and governments to help deliver an industry solution to meet future emission standards.  Maersk is able to help calculate CO2 emissions for its customers for a given port-to-port ocean corridor, and inland haulage.

Bevis reckons although these initiatives add costs to the shipping line and, as a result, the shippers, over time there will be paybacks.

Maersk is also actively engaged with non-government organisations, such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to ensure seafood exporters operate by standards that are deemed sustainable.

The message, specifically for seafood exporters, is: “If we think you need to change, we put pressure on you. If you persist, we may not carry your products,” Bevis says.

This, Bevis says, is not a fad or public relations exercise. “We are trying to bring about change although we can’t be judge and jury for all industries.” Countries that support sustainable business may have a cargo policy on what is legally acceptable, he adds.

The choices New Zealand makes as an exporter – in the way the country moves cargo around the world — will therefore determine how acceptable the exports are being shipped to consumers, Bevis adds.

These decisions involve dialogue with different stakeholders on what questions need to be addressed on how New Zealand moves goods to market, he says.

As a small country a long way from anywhere, it makes sense for stakeholders to participate in voicing out – from a legislative standpoint – what is sustainable for New Zealand businesses, he says.

Maersk was in July named sustainable shipping Operator of the Year at the sustainable shipping Awards in London.


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