If we learned anything from COVID-19, and I think we’ve all learned quite a bit, is that we need to take appropriate measures to strengthen and re-enforce international supply chains. There are two main reasons for this. First, to ensure that future events like the global pandemic do not threaten supply chains, and second, to make a comprehensive effort toward reducing the rate of climate change. And the two go hand in hand. Victor Restis, international shipping executive and president of Enterprises Shipping & Trade, recently offered insights into what the companies are doing to integrate sustainable practices in the maritime trade industry.
Environmental factors affect both sustainability measures, and supply chains and companies are realizing that. However, the article points out that companies are finding it hard to see the direct value of sustainability measures in their profit/loss statements. Mr. Restis pointed out that the maritime industry as a whole is interested and committed but saw new, proposed standards as a challenge.
Mr. Restis points out that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has already proposed several ambitious targets for the shipping industry, starting with a 40 percent improvement in ship efficiency by 2030 and the target for a 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. It seems this can be achieved by increasing vessel efficiency. New measures targeting exhaust gas cleaning systems, the use of cleaner ballast water, the use of alternative fuels, leveraging natural resources for power generation, reducing marine litter, improving ship recycling processes, and slow steaming are all under consideration for changes in cargo shipping vessel sustainability.
New technologies can also help with creating and implementing new sustainability programs. Robotics can help to service vessels, conduct inspections, and can do more dangerous jobs such as oil spill cleanups. Robotics are environmentally safe and can make other functions of shipping more reliable to mitigate any disasters at sea that would hurt the environment.
Mr. Restis points out other ways to power large cargo vessels such as solar and wind resources. That sounds interesting and makes the most sense. If ships can be outfitted with solar power generators instead of fossil fuels to power ships, then that would undoubtedly reduce CO2 emissions and help make the 2050 goal of a 50 percent reduction.
With today’s technological advances, I am sure that leaders like Victor Restis can discover ways to reduce harm to the environment while keeping supply chains secure and keeping profits up. Either way, I am glad to see the maritime industry taking the topic of sustainability seriously.