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Significant emissions reductions lacking across supply chains

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Companies have yet to post significant emissions reductions across their supply chains despite the opportunities those actions would mean for cost savings, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project and Accenture.

That disheartening conclusion from an environmental sustainability perspective was revealed in A New Era: Supplier Management in the Low-Carbon Economy, the CDP’s fourth annual global survey of the preparedness of company supply chains for climate change impacts. Read the rest of this entry »

Maritime Industry Goes Sustainable

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Shipping lines, shipbuilders, banks, insurers and shippers are joining forces on a major sustainability initiative that’s “designed to help the industry make long-term plans for future success.”

They call it the Sustainable Shipping Initiative/Vision 2040. They even assert that “radical changes” are needed to make the global shipping industry more energy efficient, environmentally-friendly and sustainable for the long haul.

The initiative unites maritime-related companies from across the industry with the NGO’s Forum for the Future and WWF, including:

Written by William DiBenedetto

November 10, 2011 at 2:00 am

Staxxon: Folding the box inside the box

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Containerization revolutionized the maritime freight transportation industry more than 50 years ago; those ubiquitous 20- and 40-foot steel intermodal boxes seen in ports and on truck and rail chassis have made cargo handling faster, easier, safer and more efficient.

The next revolutionary phase of containerization might well reside in the vertical folding container from Staxxon Technologies, a clever solution to the old trade imbalance problem of moving and repositioning empty containers from where the freight isn’t to where the freight is. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

November 1, 2011 at 2:00 am

PNW’s Feedstock Diversity and Supply Chain Potential Can Boost Green Jet Fuel

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Algae-based crude oil

Pacific Northwest aviation and renewable energy interests say there are encouraging signs of an emerging market for sustainable aviation fuels. And those same interests want to make it real.

The Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest consortium, in a report this month, concludes that no single feedstock or technology pathway is likely to provide sustainable aviation fuel at the scale or speed needed to produce and maintain jet fuel supply.

Therefore, the 132-page report, “Powering the Next Generation of Flight,” focuses on a portfolio of options, including different conversion technologies and sources of potentially sustainable biomass, including oilseeds, forest residues, solid waste, and algae.

Instead of trying to single out the best source of aviation fuels, SAFN emphasizes the need to create “complete supply chains that can draw upon diverse feedstocks.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

June 14, 2011 at 2:00 am

Vessel emissions reduction system proposed by WSC

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Rather than dealing with a strew-pot full of environmental emissions regulations and fees, a group comprising the world’s largest international liner shipping companies is proposing a new global vessel efficiency system (VES) intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The 29-member World Shipping Council’s proposal is asking the UN’s International Maritime Organization take the lead in applying vessel efficiency design standards for new and existing vessels in the world fleet that will improve their carbon and fuel efficiency.

Under the VES proposal, newly-built vessels would be subject to mandatory efficiency standards requiring them to be built with features and technologies that further improve the energy efficiency to reach defined levels, according to a WSC statement. “These standards would be similar in nature to the fuel efficiency standards required of cars and trucks in many countries around the world today. The standards would also be tiered with higher standards required over time as technology developments allow further improvements.”

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Written by William DiBenedetto

February 1, 2010 at 5:28 pm

GoGreen gets to North America

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dhl_gogreen11DHL’s GoGreen climate change program has reached North America’s shores, but not the U.S.  A year after the GoGreen launch in Europe the German package express delivery and logistics has made it available in Canada.

DHL Express Canada’s GoGreen service is described by the company as a “carbon-neutral” shipping option that “enables Canadian businesses of all sizes to ship their goods internationally without leaving an environmental footprint.”

DHL adds that the value-added service that makes use of carbon offsets and low emission transporation technologies provides companies with a seamless, eco-friendly friendly shipping option; it’s available from anywhere in Canada to more than 220 countries around the world.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

October 27, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Shining industrial rooftops

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Prologis2Warehouses and distribution facilities may be emptier inside than usual these days, but the rooftop space above is a great and largely untapped solar energy resource.

Distribution facility developer ProLogis, which was hard-hit last year by the collapse of the real estate industry, is on the cutting edge of what could and should be a bright business and  sustanability opportunity in the logistics and warehousing arena.

The Denver company has formed a Global Renewable Energy Group that will oversee the procurement, development  and management of new eco-friendly properties while providing management services for renewable energy projects, including a major push to provide rooftop space for solar energy installations.

One of the group’s first management efforts was announced recently: A new, 4.8-megawatt (MW) solar project that will be installed on eight rooftops at the ProLogis Park Sant Boi in Barcelona and ProLogis Park Alcala in Madrid, Spain. It’s a co-development arrangement with San Francisco’s Recurrent Energy that also marks Recurrent’s first foray into Europe.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

October 7, 2009 at 11:52 am

Unilever works on ambient ice cream? Maybe not

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An unidentified Unilever spokesperson says the company has no plans to develop to ambient or room temperature  ice cream.


It’s possible that the glare of publicity about this caused the company to back off, or maybe the timing isn’t right. Perhaps it wants to mislead the competition. Anyway it’s an interesting development.

Chances are you’re an ice cream fan and perhaps you consider yourself an expert on the subject. But did you know that the huge multinational corporation Unilever is the world’s largest ice cream producer?

It makes most of the world’s favorite ice cream brands. Brands like Klondike, Good Humor, Breyers and Popsicle. Even Ben & Jerry’s resides in the Unilever stable.

So when its company scientists poetically pursue the concept of warm ice cream as a way to address global warming, we should pay attnetion because dessert could suddenly become more guilt-free on several levels for everyone, especially environemntally speaking. They are developing a low-carbon product that would be sold at room temperature and then frozen at home.

It’s not clear how far along they are with this, but it seems like an excellent idea, one that would take the added cost of storing, handling and shipping ice cream in its traditional frozen state out of the equation at the manufacturer’s end of the supply chain. If it’s produced, sold and shipped at room temperature then some  costly and energy-intensive factors, including CO2 emissions, will melt away.

Warm, or ambient, ice cream is an idea that seems ready for prime time but it poses a rocky road for Unilever researchers worrying about the correct product “microstructure” that enables the consumer’s dish of Rocky Road to be, well, the same delicious dish of Rocky Road they have come to expect.

A research program to minimize the environmental impact of company products is underway in Unilever laboratories, aided by researchers at Great Britain’s Cambridge University.

“We have to look at a really radical solution,” says Gavin Neath, Unilever’s senior vice-president for sustainability.

Meanwhile Unilever is trying to reduce emissions resulting from its massive ice cream operations by improving the energy efficiency of its factories in Gloucester, Heppenheim in Germany, Caivano in Italy and Saint-Dizier in France.

It is upgrading two million refrigerators that it supplies to retailers in 40 countries. The company for several years has been shifting to “climate-friendly” refrigerators that use propane rather than hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, which are a powerful greenhouse gas. The shift to propane as a refrigerant began in 2004. Propane is a hydrocarbon, or natural gas that does not harm the ozone layer and has a low global warming potential, according to the company.

Hydrocarbon refrigerators are also more energy efficient, using up to 15 percent less energy compared to other models. Neath says that to date about 400,000 refrigerators have been replaced with the propane-powered units.

While health care reform stalls and environmental initiatives struggle to take a firm hold, at least the vital ice cream supply chain could have an eco-friendly future.

Written by William DiBenedetto

August 28, 2009 at 9:37 am

Seattle, Tacoma push their “Green Gateway” status

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gg_logo1Size and distance matters a great deal when it comes to solidifying Pacific Northwest ports’ status as the “Green Gateway” for cargoes moving out of Asia.

It seems inherently obvious that the larger the cargo vessel and the shorter the route that its cargo has to travel, greenhouse gas emissions will lessen. What the Puget Sound ports of Seattle and Tacoma have done, for the first time it appears, is actually quantify this carbon footprint conclusion.

They did so in a study released Monday that estimates the GHG emissions from the delivery of cargo containers from the four most common-sized container ships in use – 4,500 TEUs, 6,500 TEUs, 8,500 TEUs, and 12,500 TEUs. The TEU, or 20-foot container equivalent unit, is the standard measure of all those ubiquitous boxes that are stacked on ships, rolling behind trucks or double-stacked on trains.

Their conclusion: The lowest emission route to ship cargo from Asia to the U.S. Midwest is through the Puget Sound – what they call the “Green Gateway” for trade.

“The carbon study results are good news, and a great boost to our efforts to measure and reduce our environmental impact,” said Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani. “Our ongoing sustainability initiatives have created a Green Gateway that is good for our environment and our customers.”

It also adds environmental street-cred in the continuing competitive commercial battle between intermodal rail and all-water container services by taking aim from a carbon footprint perspective on the advantages of rail services from West Coast ports over all-water services to the Gulf and East coasts.

The study confirms “what we’ve known for a long time,” says Port of Tacoma Executive Director Tim Farrell. “This region has been a truly green gateway for a long time, and our customers are helping us demonstrate that businesses can do well by doing good.”

The study analyzes the carbon footprints of trade routes between Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and the U.S. distribution hubs of Chicago, Columbus and Memphis, as well as routes that use US East and Gulf Coast ports via the Panama and Suez canals. It was commissioned by the Port of Seattle and conducted by Herbert Engineering, a ship design, engineering and transportation consulting firm based in California.gg_final_map_for_web

A study comparison of the emissions of ocean-going containerships and domestic rail service finds that marine transportation emits about 1.5 to 2.25 less carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per TEU-mile than rail transportation. “This relationship favors shipping over rail transportation when travel distances are comparable,” the study continues. But the ocean distance from Asian ports to the West Coast ports and in particular the ports of Prince Rupert in British Columbia and Seattle “are so much shorter than the (all-water) distances to the East Coast ports that this more than offsets the detrimental impact of the longer rail distances from the West Coast ports.”

The report also finds that shipping though Seattle provides the lowest overall carbon emissions from the three Asian departure ports used in the study, when the cargo continues on to inland container terminals at Chicago and Columbus.

Prince Rupert, emerging as major rival to Seattle and Tacoma in intermodal rail services to the Midwest, has a similar emissions footprint. When shipping to Memphis, the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland have the lowest emissions.

The carbon footprint advantages from West Coast ports “can be quite significant,” the study says.  For example, “carbon emissions expressed in terms of emissions per TEU moves are approximately 41% lower when moving a container between Shanghai and Chicago via the port of Seattle on a 8,500 TEU containership, as opposed to moving the same container between Shanghai and Chicago via the Panama Canal and the port of New York/New Jersey on a 4,500 TEU containership. The latter-sized vessel is the largest that can currently fit through the canal.

View the study, “Carbon Footprint Study for the Asia to North America Intermodal Trade,” here.

Written by William DiBenedetto

May 4, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Will green finally do the trick for collaborative transportation?

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Maybe…and let’s hope so.

That’s the question that Dan Gilmore, the editor-in-chief of SupplyChainDigest is asking today in his interesting First Thoughts column.

Read his discussion: Gilmore’s First Thoughts in SCDigest

Written by William DiBenedetto

April 3, 2009 at 9:51 am


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