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Container Shipping Equals Relatively Low Environmental Impact

Global warming is an issue of international concern and the container shipping industry is keen to ensure that its global operations leave minimal carbon footprints.

An International Maritime Organization (IMO) study found that international maritime shipping accounts for just 2.7% of greenhouse gas emissions. Similar studies by other organisations revealed that shipping also results in far less exhaust gas emissions for each ton transported per kilometre, compared to air or road transport. This means that fewer nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, particulates, carbon monoxides and sulphur dioxides are released into the atmosphere, as the graphic below shows.

Port Containers USA-Containers for sale- infographic

Sea-going Shipping Containers vs. Truck Transport

One statistic you may find startling is that a one ton cargo shipped in a sea container from the Port of Melbourne, Australia to the Port of Long Beach, U.S.A  (a journey of 7,935 miles) will generate fewer CO2 emissions than a truck carrying exactly the same load from Dallas, Texas to Long Beach!

In a similarly striking study, courtesy of the wine industry, it was discovered that a bottle of French wine arriving by sea in a containerized load and served in a New York restaurant, may often have a lower carbon footprint than the equivalent from California that’s arrived by truck! More than 95% of U.S. wine comes from the Napa Valley and other West Coast regions, but over two-thirds of the population lives east of the Mississippi River, meaning the negative environmental impact of haulage is significant. Air cargo is by far the worst offender. Sea container transportation has five times less impact than trucking and eleven times less than air. So, it’s clearly not the distance travelled but the mode of transport that’s most important and the trusty shipping container wins, hands down.

Shipping Container Industry Strives to Further Reduce Carbon Footprint

Port Containers USA is committed to protecting the environment and will take as many practical measures as possible to limit its carbon footprint. Vessel builders and operators are similarly dedicated to limiting greenhouse gas emissions and their research and development teams are also tasked with reducing fuel consumption. Moving the equivalent of up to 19,000 20-foot Conex boxes built from Corten steel demands a lot of power and fuel oil, although ship engines are steadily becoming more efficient as technology advances.

Operators are constantly looking at new fuel options, such as LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) which is cleaner, safer and more affordable.

Embracing Wind Power on Container Vessels

Not so long ago the sole option for moving goods across the globe was via wind-powered ships, and vast trading empires were built in this way. With the world’s largest container vessel weighing in at close to 190,000 tonnes, sail-power alone is not a viable option, however, there are companies developing ‘sky sails’ as auxiliary propulsion systems for container ships.

Port Containers USA-Containers for sale-Cargo ships harnessing wind powerSails are easy to install and have the ability to significantly reduce emissions and fuel consumption by cleverly harnessing the free power of ocean winds. It’s thought that sky sails are suitable for as much as 60% of the world’s fleet of 51,000 commercial ships.

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