Ports have become crucial in the success of our global economy. Every country big or small relies on ships and ports to export and import goods around the world. However, this over-reliance on international goods has made transportation the fastest-growing cause of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
In the next thirty years, GHG emissions from the sustainable shipping ports industry are expected to rise from 50 to 250 percent.
This is the reason why improving their sustainability should be an important global effort. Aside from carbon emissions, ships also contribute a significant amount of waste to our oceans. In fact, the shipping industry is responsible for 20 percent of trash in our world’s oceans!
These wastes in the form of garbage, chemicals, and discharge sewage are harmful to marine ecosystems. They can even release ballast water, which can spread invasive species.
In the next decade, regulatory pressures related to sustainability will change how shipping ports operate and do business. Environmentally motivated regulations will become the key to reducing carbon emission, ballast water discharge, and to the improvements in ship design and ship recycling technologies. All of these changes will create a better environment and socio-economic shifts.
How Ports Can Be More Sustainable?
Experts believe that a sustainable shipping ports supply chain network will have a positive effect on the whole transportation industry. Here are ways ports can become more environmentally sustainable:
Using Alternate Sources of Energy for Docked Ships
Did you know that ‘bunker fuel’ is the world’s dirtiest fuel? Ports can create changes in their infrastructure so that there will be cleaner fuel for ships. Doing this will significantly reduce GHG emissions. Another way to do this is by providing the onshore power supply (OPS) so that when docked, they can shut off their engines.
IoT and Big Data
All ports should use big data and predictive analysis to schedule the arrival and departure of ships. These are smart technologies that help port operations and management. This will greatly improve the efficiency of ports by managing congestions in the best way possible. There will be less ship idling and using excess power. It can also save fuel and emissions.
Waste Disposal Facilities
Ports should change their infrastructure to better manage waste better without harming the sea. They should pre-treat ballast water and all kinds of chemical and ship waste before dumping it into the ocean. They should also learn to harvest rainwater and use it for cleaning purposes.
Some ports have already upgraded their disposal facilities. One of the most talked-about today is the Micro Auto Gasification System or (MAGS). MAGS provides a sustainable and safe alternative to traditional waste management for any habitat. MAGS destroys waste on-site and reduces its volume by 95%. It can handle almost any type of waste including infectious waste, food, papers, packaging, and more. MAGS is a brilliant solution for many market sectors due to its clean emissions. It will eliminate the need for transport waste, incineration, and landfilling, resulting in record-high GHG reduction.
Upgrade Port Equipment
Ports should invest in better machinery. Instead of using cranes, forklifts, and trucks, they should try to use more efficient and less pollutive machines. One example of efficient port equipment is the Smart Container. Smart containers are shipping containers that provide end-to-end visibility and traceability. They can improve the overall supply chain with their monitoring capabilities and efficient transport.
Reduce Noise and Light Pollution
For ports near residential areas, they should issue regulations that would limit the use of bright lights at night and restrict noise by ship engines. Light and noise pollution created by port operations are nuisances that usually affect near-port communities. They are also linked to various health impacts including hearing impairment, high blood pressure, and sleep deprivation.
Light and noise pollution can also impact wildlife in nearby areas. The noise made by ship engines can disrupt habitats. In some cases, it leads to significant changes in nesting sites, mammal hearing, and behavior patterns. Scientists have also found that light pollution can disrupt the biological rhythms of birds resulting in high mortality amongst their populations.
The Future of Shipping Port Industry
Today, there is no global effort that aims to reduce GHG emissions from ships which is very unfortunate considering how much the industry contributes to global warming. However, the EU has made some baby steps starting by ordering stricter environmental standards. They also made new adjustments so that proactive shipping companies can benefit from more favorable loan terms if they invest in greener technology. In the long term, those shipping companies that do not make the necessary green investments may prove to be less competitive. Their ships will become less energy-efficient, and they might face changing market expectations that could punish them. This is a good start for a great future in the sustainable shipping ports industry.