New biofuel to cut carbon emissions in container freight shipping trial

Shipping behemoth, Maersk is piloting a new carbon neutral product, which it claims to be the first of its kind in the industry, with select container freight customers which are engaged in employing sustainable solutions along their supply chain. Clothing-retail company, H&M Group, is the first company to trial the new fuel employed as part of the shift towards carbon-neutral transportation.

The biofuel in the pilot project is the same blend of used cooking oil and heavy which has been tested and successfully validated in a trial driven in collaboration with the Dutch Sustainability Growth Coalition (DSGC) and Shell, earlier this year. It is certified as a sustainable fuel by the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) body.

"The biofuel trial on board Mette Maersk has proven that decarbonised solutions for shipping can already be utilised today, both technically and operationally. While it is not yet an absolutely final solution it is certainly part of the solution and it can serve as a transition solution to reduce COemissions today. With the launch of this product, Maersk seeks to help our customers with their goal of moving to sustainable supply chains. We believe this is the only commercially viable path to make the required investments our industry requires to reach the carbon neutral target. We are so pleased to see a significant shift in sentiment and involvement from customers, fuel suppliers, equipment manufacturers, and competitors towards sustainable solutions,” commented Søren Toft, Maersk COO.

The biofuel to be utilised is claimed as carbon neutral and provides H&M Group the ability to reduce their transport and logistics emissions towards their aspiration of carbon neutrality, when accounting for only the emissions from the vessel. The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) will provide a procedure to ensure carbon savings are accredited to our customers appropriately. When taking a full lifecycle view including also all emissions from upstream production and transportation, the fuel entails savings of 85% compared to bunker fuel.

The goal of such pilot projects is to unlock the potential of sustainable fuels so it can become a commercial reality.

"Our high ambition to become climate positive by 2040 requires cooperation and engagement from all parties in the supply chain. We want to use our size to be a force for good and enable scaling innovative solutions, such as the carbon neutral ocean product, for a greener commercial transport,” said Helena Helmersson, COO H&M Group.

Maersk says that it will use the biofuel project learnings to support a broader product offering and will continue to co-develop and facilitate the uptake of solutions that will help bring about more cost-efficient carbon-neutral options for the benefit of the transportation system.

The shift away from fossil fuels can be expensive for shippers. Ensuring the wide-scale adoption of carbon-neutral solutions therefore requires technical innovation and supportive global policies. Maersk says that shipping remains the most carbon-efficient means of global transport today, but accounts for 2-3% of global emissions. This number will continue to grow if left unchecked by industry leaders and policy makers.