Many consider the shipping industry to be the backbone of worldwide trade and commerce. It’s estimated that about 80% of goods are transported by ocean. The industry plays a significant role in the growth of the global economy.
Because of the maritime industry’s scale, it’s crucial to think about the impact cargo ships and other boats have on the environment. Whether it’s the Atlantic or Pacific, shipping goods across the ocean requires certain practices that may be harming marine life.
Making sustainability a priority is vital for many industries. To reduce our carbon footprint, adopting innovative ways to ship safely will allow marine life to flourish and our environment to remain safe to live in.
We’ll discuss the current impacts the shipping industry has on the environment and some sustainability initiatives that could improve the current state of the industry.
Making Improvements in the Shipping Industry
Although shipping is already considered to be an energy-efficient form of transportation, it’s crucial to acknowledge all of the ways in which shipping can be improved.
Thankfully, there are environmental regulations in place that shipping companies must follow to do business. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is well aware of the consequences that will come if efforts are not made to improve sustainability in the industry.
As a result, the IMO formed a strategic plan to lower carbon emissions by 2050. In addition, IMO created the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships to join industry leaders together and work to fight pollution. Ships pollute the environment when they spill oil and give off carbon emissions. As you can see, it will take industry leaders, shipping corporations, and other international organizations to work together to achieve a sustainable future.
Dredging is another sustainability issue that the shipping industry is facing. Dredging is the practice of digging out the floor of waterways to make more room for ships transporting cargo to or from one destination. Although it makes it easier for boats to navigate waters, it can harm marine life close to the bottom of the ocean. It’s possible to acquire high-quality dredging equipment that removes sediment from an area more safely than previous methods.
However, dredged material can be recycled and repurposed in some way. Rather than shipping that material elsewhere, it can be used to create other raw materials that provide benefits to the manufacturing industry.
Adopt Sustainable Shipping Practices
Certain steps can be taken to improve transportation methods and create a safer environment for everyone. Here are some practices that shipping companies can adopt to be more sustainable:
1. Build Eco-Friendly Ships
Ships that cut down on the carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere are already in the works. Take NYK’s Super Eco Ship, for instance. Although it’s a concept, the hope is that by 2050, this type of ship will transport goods without harming the environment. NYK remodeled and reduced the weight of the ship’s hull and focused on conserving energy while creating this concept.
2. Promote a Sustainable Work Environment
It’s essential to emphasize the importance of sustainable work practices from the top down. When seafarers are aware of environmental issues, there’s more room to implement sustainable shipping methods. Workers will feel a positive impact when sustainability measures are taken to improve their work environment.
3. Use Alternative Power Methods
Transporting goods requires the use of fossil fuels, which negatively impact the environment and are unsustainable. To mitigate this, alternative energy sources can be used to power ships. For example, hydrogen fuel and wind propulsion systems are available and can significantly improve sustainability initiatives.
Sailing to a Greener Future
Many industries across different sectors are working toward achieving sustainable practices that improve the environment we live in. The maritime industry must be willing to utilize innovative technologies, consider new ship concepts, and research alternative fueling sources to reach this goal.