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Everybody is after the sustainability trophy


Ever since I started working in the private sector, I have felt like I am in the middle of a “sustainability game”. I don’t think I have reached the finish line yet - most likely nobody has. Actually, the real game may only be beginning.


During my rather long career, everybody has always said that sustainability is important. However, what we consider as “sustainability” and what its success factors are, vary depending on who you ask or who the speaker is. Sometimes it even feels that the trophy goes to the best practice reporting, compliance with standards, and the “most green” branding.

With all this in mind, why do I still have the energy to keep on working around sustainability issues? Well, because I do see that the real marathon towards more sustainable markets is only beginning. Also, I really believe that it matters what I do, what my colleagues at Cargotec do, and actually what more and more companies are already doing - with or without the sustainability gold medalist crown.

Today, the cargo handling industry suffers from inefficiency, that, according to studies by different consultancy groups, amounts to about 17 billion euros being wasted annually. Around 19 million CO2 equivalent tonnes are emitted on an annual basis only in shipping by moving empty containers. All in all, the maritime industry emits around 2.5 percent of global CO2 emissions, while logistics produces roughly six percent.

To tackle this challenge, we at Cargotec have continuously invested in digitalisation - software solutions and common platforms, to name a few - to decrease the waste in cargo flows. As an example, an efficient utilisation of terminal operating systems may lead to a fuel decrease of more than 15 percent per terminal. If berthing availability would be optimised with common data sharing platforms, ships could steam slower, with the same schedule, causing less emissions.

Today, the majority of ships are not utilising their full container carrying capacity. We are providing solutions to increase the capacity of the ships with careful cargo handling design leading up to 10 percent increase in ship´s utilisation rate. This enables customers to transport more cargo with less emissions per transported container.

We admit that there is lot to be improved in decreasing the fuel usage of cargo handling equipment themselves, and we have been working on that systematically. Over 50 percent of Kalmar cargo handling equipment is available with electric power sources. Our engineering and sales guys have been able to ensure customers to replace their existing fleet with more eco-efficient solutions. In 2007, we committed to decrease the fuel consumption of our solutions by one million barrels during next six to ten years. By 2017 we had more than doubled that promise.

Of course, we are also taking seriously the sustainability standards that guide our own operations. Many issues covered by standards are today a license to operate in the industry. In the beginning of 2018, MSCI and Ecovadis both rated us among the most sustainable companies in our industry (class AA and gold respectively). But that is not the only trophy we are eager to have. It is not enough and it is not necessarily giving a full picture of the “sustainability winners” when also considering all other industries.

What are your thoughts?
We in the cargo handling industry are after the trophy of winning in sustainable business, making large-scale impacts with more efficient cargo flows across the industry. We can not do it alone, but we can call you to discuss this and make the change. Is that the trophy you would also like to have? Join the discussion!

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