Maritime shipping is one of the most efficient modes of transport and is responsible for moving 90% of trade goods around the world. However, whilst less carbon intensive than many other forms of transport, it still accounts for 3% of all global carbon emissions.

This checklist, produced by the BRC and BearingPoint, summarises key considerations retailers should make when assessing maritime opportunities for carbon reduction in the supply chain.

For further guidance you can view BearingPoint’s full report on maritime shipping and use of rail freight and listen to the on-demand webinar here.

Maritime Shipping Checklist

1.   Check the shipping lines’ carbon reduction ambition. Whilst all major shipping lines have targets for decarbonisation these vary considerably. BearingPoint found that reduction targets to 2030 ranged from 12% to 50% between companies. This can impact retailers own carbon reduction goals so interrogate the ambitions of future maritime partners carefully.

2.   Utilise tools. All major shipping lines offer digital carbon monitoring tools that can assist BRC members with establishing baselines, calculating, monitoring and reporting emissions. Ask your shipping partner for further information.

3.   Work with near-shore suppliers. Many companies are considering near-shoring, working with suppliers/manufacturers that are geographically closer to the UK to reduce transport miles and increase options. This can have significant advantages for supply chain management but needs to be balanced against potential increased manufacturing costs and different tariff regimes.

4.   Interrogate solutions. Interrogate your shipping partner on how they are reducing carbon emissions. Are they deploying solutions such as:
  • improving cargo handling methods and planning of loads to maximise economic benefit and reduce carbon
  • autopilot software
  • use of weather navigation systems to enable energy efficient routing
  • reducing ship speeds to reduce fuel consumption
  • continually monitoring fuel consumption and engine operations
  • using anti-fouling paint on hulls. Barnacles and weed increase drag and fuel consumption

And ask how their vessels are powered. The BearingPoint full report assesses the merits of alternative fuels and power options.

5.   Consider onward transportation. Make sure your suppliers are using their closest port and interrogate their onward transport strategy. Poorly maintained trucks can emit three times the carbon of modern vehicles.

6.   Examine your own onward transport strategy. One optimised rail freight journey removes the equivalent of 76 HGVs from the road.

7.   Consider location. Assess your own network design. Can your new distribution centres be better located closer to port

8.   Port selection. Understand how your chosen ports are working to minimise carbon. Different ports have invested at different levels on reduction solutions. Ask for details before finalising your maritime strategies.

For more information contact BearingPoint colleagues Richard Walters, Senior Manager, Consumer Goods & Retail or Jessica Davies, Senior Business Analyst