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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an idea that corporations have to consider the interests of customers, employees, shareholders, communities, and ecological considerations in all
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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : March/April 2004 : Frontlines


Carriers & Customers
A unified effort aims for sustainable ocean transport worldwide.

How can shippers gauge their carriers’ environmental management performance and address the environmental impacts of their ocean-going transportation? A group of more than a dozen manufacturers, retailers and shipping companies are taking steps to answer these questions with the launch last November of the Clean Cargo Environmental Performance Survey (EPS). The survey was developed by members of the Business for Responsibility’s (BSR) Clean Cargo Group, a worldwide committee consisting of multinational corporations who have voluntarily developed environmental guidelines for ocean transportation.

Transportation ranks alongside electricity generation and manufacturing as one of the three most significant sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As global trade increases, GHG emissions from ocean vessels are also expected to rise. BSR’s Clean Cargo Group participants, who together represent approximately 33 percent of containerized cargo carriers and 20 percent of the top 50 U.S. importers of containerized cargo by volume, collaborated on developing the survey.

“The aim of the survey is to provide shippers and carriers with a common reporting tool to begin examining the overall environmental impacts associated with ocean transportation,” explains Michelle Lapinski, BSR senior manager, Business and Environment. “The hope is that this survey will lead to better communication between carriers and their customers about fuel efficiency and related environmental improvements that can be sought over time. It’s a powerful tool in helping to identify collaborative approaches to environmental management.”

The survey is a supply-chain management tool for manufacturers and retailers establishing a set of environmental indicators and reporting standards for ocean-going carriers who transport their companies’ products. The survey includes a set of metrics along with practical steps to help companies understand and measure environmental impacts. Among its potential benefits, it is anticipated that the survey will help ocean carriers and their customers assess options for increased fuel efficiency, which in turn will lower emissions and help improve air quality. Additionally, by proactively managing the environmental impacts of product transportation and minimizing emissions, companies gain first-mover advantages while setting up systems to mitigate the financial impact of future regulations.

The collaboration between customers and suppliers also benefits both parties by establishing industry-supported methodologies for reporting and calculating environmental performance. The partnership developed while creating the survey will enable companies to work together to address multiple environmental impacts of shipping products, as well as find cost-effective and mutually beneficial solutions.

“HP established a supplier evaluation program for environmental performance over 10 years, but to date has not included carriers, due primarily to a lack of carrier-specific criteria,” said Paul Quickert, Regulatory Tracking & Compliance manager. “For ocean freight carriers, the Clean Cargo Group not only satisfied that need by partnering with carriers to develop the criteria, it secured the endorsement of some of the top ocean freight carriers in the world in the process.”

To learn more about or download a copy of the Environmental Performance Survey, go to Companies are encouraged to use the survey in their business-to-business relationships as shippers and carriers.

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