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International Forwarding Association Blog » Sea freight in Europe » European Ports Lead the Wave in Environmental Conservation

European Ports Lead the Wave in Environmental Conservation

European ports lead in adopting sustainable practices, spanning biodiversity conservation, renewable energy, and waste management. These efforts improve environmental health and bring predictability and cost benefits to the logistics sector.


Biodiversity Conservation

Today, ports are increasingly acknowledging the significance of biodiversity conservation in their operations. For instance, The Port of Antwerp, in partnership with the environmental organization Natuurpunt, is undertaking efforts to safeguard its biodiverse ecosystem, which hosts several rare species. Through the initiative ‘Port of Antwerp more natural,’ the port is implementing conservation strategies such as setting up nesting locations for sand martins, building areas for fish to spawn, and the creation of designated habitats for the natterjack toad.

Such conservation measures result in a healthier environment and fewer unexpected disruptions due to environmental degradation. For forwarders, this results in greater predictability and smoother and more reliable supply chain management.


Renewable Energy

The push towards sustainability has seen European ports taking steps toward integrating renewable energy into their operations. The Port of Rotterdam, for instance, is home to the world’s most potent turbine. With a height of 248 meters, this turbine boasts a 12-megawatt capacity, enough to produce electricity for approximately 16,000 local homes. Additionally, the port is in the process of preparing an 11-hectare area for a potential large-scale green hydrogen facility. The anticipated completion date for the hydrogen facility, which will have a capacity of 1 GW, is 2028.

This approach is being seen in other ports too. For instance, the Port of Hamburg is already sourcing two-thirds of its terminal’s energy needs from wind, solar, and combined heat and power energy. Additionally, outside the Port of Hamburg, on the Rhiver Elbe, a newly established docking zone is utilizing solar panels to operate mooring hooks for keeping ships firmly anchored. These solar-powered hooks offer a reliable way to secure large vessels that need deep waters for safe operation as they wait for the tide to enter the port.

Such efforts to adopt renewable energy have important benefits for European logistics operators. As ports use more of their clean energy, their operational costs decrease, which can make services more affordable for forwarders.


Waste Management

European green ports are increasingly embracing innovative waste management systems, focusing on reducing, reusing, and recycling waste. The Port of Antwerp is one example of a maritime hub that has implemented such waste management strategies. One of its programs involves converting plastic waste into essential chemical compounds which are then reformed into plastic granules. These granules can be utilized across several sectors such as the medical field for equipment, the energy industry for insulation, and the packaging sector for creating protective packaging solutions.

When ports implement such effective waste management systems, they reduce the environmental impact of their operations. This reduction can lead to lower environmental fees charged by regulatory bodies for waste disposal and processing. Ports may then pass these savings on to the companies operating within them, including freight forwarders, in the form of lower service charges or fees associated with handling goods.