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Sustainability in shipping - more than emissions and alternative fuels

Sustainability in shipping is about much more than just emissions and alternative fuel and industry needs to take a much broader approach say leading shipowning and chartering executives.

Hor Weng Yew, ceo of dry bulk shipowner Pacific Carriers Ltd (PCL), told the Shipping 2030 Asia conference in Singapore, “A lot of sustainability in shipping is really about fuel and emissions, and I feel the industry needs to take a broader and certainly a bolder approach to it.”

“Fuels and the environment is important, but I think it is also about efficiency of assets, utilisation, the circular economy, and how we operate our business consuming the least resources of the earth,” Hor explained to delegates at the conference organised by KNect365 Maritime.

“I’ve not heard much about talking about people, that’s another important resource – the human resource, so what does is mean for the welfare of our crew and our staff, the risk and safety? Are we really talking holistically about sustainability.”

It was similar message from one of the world’s largest commodity shippers BHP Biliton. “Looking at sustainability I agree it’s not just about the emissions, the green ships and eco-ships, it’s about the safe carriage of the cargo and the crew welfare as well, that is also important,” said Prashanth Athipar, principal ocean freight sustainability, BHP Biliton.

While BHP is mining company that does not own ships it sees that it has wider responsibility as a user of shipping services. “All we are interested in is shipping more cargoes, we are not a shipping company, we are mining company…but we go beyond that commercial interest, we are looking at the crew welfare, we look at the emissions of the engines.”

He noted that in its first in the world tender for LNG-powered capesize to transport 27m tonnes of iron ore the company was not simply looking for a capesize bulker fitted with a gas turbine, we looking at what else the owner can bring to the table such as fuel efficiency, the crew and how the company would respond to an incident.

Read more: BHP calls tender for LNG-fuelled bulk carrier

PCL’s Hor believed that there was risk over time that some in shipping had forgotten their business was part of a larger supply chain, with more of a focus on areas such as asset play. “What I see is the megatrend of shipping as the service provider in the whole supply chain integrating into the cargo interest,” he said.

Hor sees shipping splitting into two markets, one with independent shipowners who will continue with the traditional business model, and second where he sees, “An emerging thinking with certain shipping as how to align better with cargo interests”. This is where the end user may dictate the carbon footprint, this is passed onto the cargo interest, and in turn translated to the shipowner, with everyone prepared to collaborate.