Sustainability: Logistics Organizations Helping Members Define Green

The British Shippers Council (BSC), a democratic arm of the U.K.’s Freight Transport Association, rebuffed proposals to impose a bunker levy on shippers to fund environmental compensation schemes and reduce carbon emissions. The BSC believes it would simply result in passing on shipping carbon costs rather than addressing the real issue of curbing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

The bunker levy plan has been represented as a way to capture billions of dollars from the maritime industry for redistribution via the International Maritime Organization (IMO) into an environmental compensation plan to help ship owners meet their climate change responsibilities and reduce carbon emissions.

“A bunker levy in the proposed format would simply pass costs from ship operator to customer,” said Christopher Snelling, Secretary of BSC. “The accountability for a ship’s carbon performance surely lies with its owner. Passing the buck by way of a bunker levy would be grossly unfair and do very little to tackle the real issue of curbing carbon emissions at the root of the problem.

“The key to reducing carbon is in the hands of the ship owners themselves, where the responsibility to improve operational and environmental efficiency must remain.”

Earlier this year the Global Shippers’ Forum stated it would welcome and support a voluntary shipping industry initiative to reduce carbon emissions through the IMO, and GSF members are now collaborating on a new project to decarbonize the maritime supply chain from the shippers’ perspective. The outputs from the project will provide a series of tools to allow shippers to take positive steps to reduce their total maritime supply chain carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, logistics service providers in North America—with the help of The International Warehouse Logistics Association—are participating in the Sustainable Logistics Initiative (SLI), a metric-driven, facility-output-based sustainable logistics program for warehouse operations. SLI participants—3PL facilities—report and engage in a rigorous and objective measurement process verified by an outside independent organization, The Sustainable Supply Chain Foundation.

Participating organizations will self report and have data verified in the following areas:

Environmental Responsibilities – the green aspects of sustainability such as electrical use, fuel and water consumption, and recycling;
Social Responsibilities – including safety and community activity measurements; and
Profit Responsibilities – sustainability will generate a cost savings through increased efficiencies and improved operational excellence. (This enables participants to provide clients with proof of sustainable practices.)

Participating facilities will receive a Sustainable Logistics Initiative certificate to display as proof of their participation in creating an ecological supply chain. As their metrics improve, facilities can achieve silver, gold or platinum status in the program.

“SLI meets the market and regulatory challenges demanded by the public, logistics services clients and government procurement offices, such as General Services Administration and Department of Defense, for an output-based, continuous improvement and commitment to sustainability,” said IWLA President & Chief Executive Officer Joel Anderson.

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