Supply Chain Requirements: Shipping

Sector name: Shipping

SIC Code: 48-49


Major Players



Major Issues

The 1973 oil crisis and 1979 energy crisis stimulated a push toward sustainability of the transportation industry.  Shipping companies, which are among the most heavily reliant on oil due to long trans-ocean deliveries, felt the pressure to improve energy efficiency of its ships and reduce its oil consumption.

Additionally, as it becomes easier and cheaper to ship goods internationally by plane, the shipping industry has to improve its fleet and create new incentives for shipping by sea in order to compete.


Key Requirements

The shipping industry is working on reducing carbon emissions while ensuring the operation of companies. Green certifications or initiatives are helpful for them to achieve the goals.


Key Certifications

  • Green Standard Certification: Green Standard specifies requirements for organizations to develop and implement ‘Green Approach’ for business sustainability that enables safe, healthy and green environment to the delivery of Green Products and Services
  • SmartWay: Public/private collaboration between the USEPA and the freight transportation industry that helps freight shippers, carriers, and logistics companies improve fuel-efficiency and save money.
  • Green Star: encourages businesses to practice waste reduction, energy conservation and pollution prevention through education, technical assistance, and an award-winning voluntary ‘green business’ certification program.
  • Green Marine: a joint Canada-U.S. initiative aimed at implementing a marine industry environmental program throughout North America.
  • DNV: An internationally based organization offering the latest in management systems certification services for the transportation industry.
  • National Clean Diesel Campaign: EPA offers funding for diesel emission reduction programs.


Getting Started

Work on an emission inventory and analyzing the energy consumption of your company.  Include statistics such as miles travelled, the amount of gasoline and oil it takes to complete shipments, and the amount of carbon emissions your ships contribute.  Focus on analyzing and improving commonly travelled routes first.  Once you have these base statistics, you can begin formulating ideas on how to manage and eventually reduce consumption and emissions. 

If regulations and policies allow, consider formulating new routes that would minimize the amount of time or miles travelled; this tactic could lead to a reduction in gas and oil consumption and use. 


Advanced Steps

More advanced steps include analyzing the economic impact and future forecasts of the shipping industry.  Consider including future performance improvement, tactical investments, innovation, sustainability risk management, redefining value, and collaboration with big companies.



Best Practices Leaders


SkySails uses large kites to help tow ships, essentially turning them into sailboats.  While this may seem like the industry is moving back in time, use of the kites can reduce fuel use by 10-35 percent for small to large. SkySails rely on computers and sensors that detect wind direction and strength to determine the most effective way to capture wind power.



Maersk is using simple physics to reduce its reliance on fuel by reducing the speed of its ships.  Reducing speed by 20 percent reduces fuel consumption by 40 percent per nautical mile. The company has saved more than $100 million on fuel costs since starting its policy of reducing ocean liner speed.  


The Ecoliner Ship

The Ecoliner is a type of cargo ship that runs from a combination of engine and wind power. Using sails to supplement powering the ships does not affect speed or freight price, but does reduce reliance on oil and saves fuel costs.


NYK Line

Tokyo-based shipping company, NYK Line has outfitted one of its ships, the M/V Auriga Leader, with more than 320 solar panels to power the ship’s main electrical grid.  This is the first ocean liner to be partially powered with solar energy.  The panels will power about 10 percent of the ship’s electrical usage. 


Key Resources

  • A tool from Shipping Efficiency to calculate the energy savings and other shipping information.
  • SmartWay is a public/private collaboration between the USEPA and the freight transportation industry that helps freight shippers, carriers, and logistics companies improve fuel-efficiency and save money.
  • DNV is one of the world’s leading certification bodies/registrars offering the latest in management systems certification services for the shipping industry.
  • A resource from Marorka to help the shipping industry create sustainable business practices and manage energy resources.
  • The Green Marine Environmental Program is an action plan that addresses nine major environmental issues identified by the marine industry



Key Words


  • barge
  • cargo shipping
  • green marine
  • eco-shipping
  • green shipping
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