Monday, May 23, 2011

Container Freight Companies Move Toward Shipping Greener Boxes

Maersk Line the Latest to Reduce Hardwood Demand
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – After our article last November in which French container shipping giant CMA CGM indicated they were looking for a way to eliminate tropical hardwood from the construction of their container floors, the biggest freight firm on the box line block, Maersk Line, have issued their own statement regarding policy on sustainable timber.

CMA CGM use bamboo floored containers and have been trialling new floor compounds such as Eko-Flor, Maersk seem to be following a similar policy and also ensuring the pedigree of any timber that is used will be of traceable origin. Traditionally, shipping lines have had their containers fitted with tropical hardwood floors. It takes two cubic metres of hardwood to produce floors for three 40 foot containers.

The container industry uses approximately 1.2-1.5 million cubic metres of hardwood annually to meet demand for new containers. As a result of the new policy, all new Maersk Line containers purchased as of January 2011 will have floors made of timber from sources employing responsible forestry practices or non-wood alternatives such as bamboo and recycled plastic. Any tropical hardwood used will be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). As an interim solution applicable only in 2011, tropical hardwood verified as legally compliant will be accepted while other floor types are scaled up in production.

To date, Maersk Line has purchased 64,000 containers that comply with the new policy. Over the next 5 years, Maersk Line will purchase approx. 3 million containers (TEU), more than doubling its current container fleet. A large percentage of the container fleet will therefore have new alternative floorboards within a relative short time span. Certified floors will be in all Maersk Line containers within 18 years, the typical lifetime of a container. The new alternative flooring solutions have been tested and developed in partnership with company suppliers.

Maersk Container Industry (MCI) in Dongguan, China produced its first FSC-labelled container for Maersk Line in April 2011. The container is fitted with hardwood floor from certified responsible forestry. Jacob Sterling, Head of Climate & Environment, Maersk Line says:

“Illegal logging is widely recognised as a serious threat to forests, people and wildlife. We feel obligated to use our purchasing power to push for higher standards and ensure that the timber we use for container floors comes from responsible forestry. It will take a while before we can say that all our containers are fitted with the new floors but we trust that our customers will appreciate that the containers we buy to transport their cargo from now on will have more sustainable floor types.”