Shipping companies invest millions in sustainability

Fresh Plaza

Sustainability and an eye for the environment are key issues on today’s market. In the maritime sector, both Yntze Buitenwerf of Seatrade and Miranda van der Meijden of Maersk notice that customers are increasingly concerned with these topics. Both companies invest millions to operate sustainably. But where Maersk places its bets on larger ships that sail slowly to reduce the impact on the environment, Seatrade sticks to smaller ships that go faster.

“Sustainability is definitely an important topic in the cooling segment of the industry,” confirms Yntze Buitenwerf, Seatrade. “The requirements, certifications and inspections in this area continue to multiply. I cannot imagine that there are segments in the maritime sector where no one looks at sustainability. There might be some parts of the world with less stringent control, but we consider it hugely important. In fact, often sustainable and environmentally friendly is also financially advantageous.”

Sail faster or slower?

Maersk and Seatrade each have their own views on the sustainability of the fleet. Maersk invests in larger ships and sails slowly. Seatrade sees future in smaller vessels going faster.

Fast steaming, less waste

In addition, Seatrade does the exact opposite of Maersk: they sail faster. “That takes more fuel per unit, I admit that. But products arrive faster, which improves the shelf life.” Transport of New Zealand to the Netherlands takes 27 days with Seatrade, where other companies spend at least 50 days at sea. Yntze believes importers are satisfied with this approach. “Of the products we ship, the dropout rate is two percent. With other container lines, that might be up to forty percent.”

Seatrade also invests half a million per vessel in a new cooling system. The liquid, which is used for the cooling, is cleaner, but less effective than the widely used and harmful freon. The downside is that more of this liquid is needed.

Slow steaming, fewer emissions

At the Asia-Europe route, Maersk deploys Triple-E ships. The company had built twenty ships in this class, which will be launched between 2013 and 2015. According to Miranda van der Meijden, these ships have 50% less CO2 emissions than average. The ships are bigger, so there’s fewer emissions per container, the hull has a U-shape instead of a V-shape and the ships sail slowly. “The new ships do 22.5 knots. The old ships do 26.5 knots.”

Maersk, however, keeps looking at the needs of the customer. “That means that not every ship goes slower by definition. If necessary, we sail faster,” says Miranda.