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Maritime sustainability: Are we doing enough?

Maritime Sustainability: Are we doing enough?

 In April last year, IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 72nd session took place in London. The initial strategy was representing a framework for the member states where one of the topics was reducing the GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions with 50% by 2050. The climate change strategy was made in line with the Paris climate change agreement that was agreed in the French capital in December 2015, in which 195 countries agreed to work to keep average temperature rises below 2°C to prevent dangerous climate change. But what has already been done or can be done with the current technologies? Even though the goal is 50% by 2050, a report published by the International Transport Forum (ITF) ahead of the IMO strategy announcement found that the industry could achieve up to 95% decarbonization as early as 2035 through the ‘maximum deployment of currently known technologies.’ So, the technology is already there, it is important that shipping lines and maritime suppliers begin to prioritize the implementation of a circular economy. According to an article by Ship Technology from June 2018, environmental organizations argue that shipping companies begin now to cut emissions. It is also argued that retrofitting existing ships with zero-carbon technologies and finding alternative fuel sources will be key, as new greener ship designs will take time to emerge.

IMO MPEC 72nd session

But what has already been done or can be done with the current technologies? Even though the goal is 50% by 2050, a report published by the International Transport Forum (ITF) ahead of the IMO strategy announcement found that the industry could achieve up to 95% decarbonization as early as 2035 through the ‘maximum deployment of currently known technologies.’ So, the technology is already there, it is important that shipping lines and maritime suppliers begin to prioritize the implementation of a circular economy. According to an article by Ship Technology from June 2018, environmental organizations argue that shipping companies begin now to cut emissions. It is also argued that retrofitting existing ships with zero-carbon technologies and finding alternative fuel sources will be key, as new greener ship designs will take time to emerge.

However, there are also other options available when it comes to the circular economy. One option is a cross-industry collaboration where players from different industries use the same approach to address the issue together. Furthermore, cross-supply chain collaboration makes it easier to identify the areas where the maritime industry can save money and resources and in the end contribute to decarbonization and circular economy.

The aviation industry is one of the front-runners when it comes to the circular economy. One of the methods they are working with is leasing where manufacturers lease out parts to the airlines. An example of this could be manufacturers that lease their turbines and takes care of the maintenance. This method does not only save the airline time and money but also contributes substantially to the circular economy because the manufacturer also takes care of reusing the whole material in the end.

Several airlines are currently testing the use of Biofuels & have implemented extensive use of circular economy for aircraft maintenance

The aviation industry can also be used for inspiration when implementing a circular economy because it is one of those industries that are good at recycling. According to an article from November 2018 by “the balance small business”, currently, 80-85 percent of an aircraft is recycled which was less than 50 percent only a few years ago. AFRA (The Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association) aimed at increasing this number to 90 percent by the end of 2016.

A final and important question is whether or not it is only the shipping lines or also other stakeholders that must contribute in order to reduce GHG emissions. The answer is that shipbuilders, equipment manufacturers, insurers, bankers, and investors in shipping companies and ports are just as responsible for contributing to the reduction of GHG emissions. It is a joint collaboration and according to an article in May last year by ICTSD (International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development) there are many among of the above-mentioned stakeholders who are already advocates of action to mitigate climate change.

So, there is a general consensus in the maritime industry when it comes to implementing a circular economy and decreasing decarbonization. The methods and technologies are already available and a lot of inspiration can be found in the aviation business. Therefore, it is debatable if the goal of reducing GHG emissions by 50% by 2050 is ambitious enough – and if the maritime industry could reach this goal even earlier.

About the author
ReFlow Maritime is based in Copenhagen, Denmark and offers consultancy and digital services on sustainability and circular economy to maritime stakeholders.

For more information: www.re-flow.io

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Circular Economy: a route towards a better environment

Circular economy: A route towards a better environment

The world population is growing and this is affecting the environment. Therefore, we need to switch from a linear to a circular economy. That is why several governments around the world, the Danish one among others, have developed a strategy for a circular economy. The aim is to ensure healthy and safe working conditions and cause less harm to the environment which a linear economy does.

Source: re-flow.io
Let’s take a closer look at the differences between a linear and circular economy.

The linear economy has been the standard for many years and basically means that raw materials are used to make a product, and after its use, any waste (e.g. packaging and the used product) is thrown away.

In an economy based on recycling, materials are reused. For example, waste glass is used to make new glass products like bottles and waste paper is used to make new paper. To ensure that in the future there are enough raw materials for food, shelter, heating, and other necessities, our economy must become circular. That means preventing waste by making products and materials more efficiently and reusing them. If new raw materials are needed, they must be obtained sustainably so that the natural and human environment is not damaged.

The process is almost the same in the maritime industry. Here, parts from the ship are continuously refurbished or maintained by a service provider until the end of its life span.

When that happens the part is sent back to the parts manufacturer where it will be recycled and the material will be used to create a new part.

butes a lot to the CO2 production.

8 million of the 260 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the sea, killing wildlife and disrupting ecosystems. 2% of this found in the US and Europe, 82% in Asia, and 16% in the rest of the world according to a 2019 report by McKinsey. According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), in 2050 the number of plastics in the oceans will outweigh fish. So, the problem is very real and we need to act now before the plastic waste in the oceans reaches levels so high that it will become almost impossible to solve the problem within a foreseeable future.

UN SDG number 12
The availability of non-renewable raw materials is limited and acquiring them costs a lot of energy, so the recycling of used materials back to the beginning of the manufacturing process is extremely rewarding – the product cycle thus closes, minimizing waste. This circular economy pursues the vision of “zero waste” production. However, it is not enough to simply recycle the materials after they have been used – products must be designed for durability, easy repair, and the replacement of components from the outset.
 

A circular economy in the automotive industry

One of the industries that have successfully used circular economy for years is the automotive industry. The materials used are usually properly disposed of which provides a high degree of recycling potential. One of the car manufacturers that has had great success with circular economy is Daimler. In its “Life Cycle Overview” for current car models since 2009 they make it clear how the circular economy can be addressed in production from the outset – with the help of analyses of the entire product life cycle.
 

Design for environment and Life Cycle Overall Documentation

Under the guideline ‘Design for Environment’ (DfE), vehicles are designed during the early development stage in such a way that they are as resource-friendly and eco-friendly as possible in terms of CO2 consumption, pollutants, and waste materials. Corrections and adjustments at later stages are very expensive, so the cross-functional DfE team works together on the areas of eco-balancing, disassembly, recycling, material and process technology, design and production.

In its Life Cycle Overall Documentation, Daimler follows four steps:

  1. Assessment scope: Here the objective and scope of an LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) are set for the entire life cycle.
  2. Life cycle inventory (LCI) and material usage: In the differentiated LCA, material and energy flow during all stages of the life cycle are analyzed based on questions such as how many kilograms of raw material flow in? How much energy is consumed? Which waste and emissions are generated? To optimize the material flows and return them to the circuit again, the individual components are mostly made of pure substances and are therefore recyclable.
  3. Impact assessment: This assesses the potential effects the product has on the environment such as global warming potential, summer smog potential, acidification potential, and other effects.
  4. Evaluation: Conclusions are drawn and recommendations are made for the optimization and production of subsequent models.
UN SDG number 12

Their results
The results of the LCA are used as the basis for creating the product design and a recycling concept. For the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, which is one of Daimler’s car models, the recycling concept was developed parallel to the development of the vehicle by analyzing the individual components or materials for each stage of the process. The recycling or recycling rate of the entire vehicle is therefore 85 per cent for material recyclability and 95 per cent for recyclability. These high recycling rates can also be applied to the maritime industry and thereby potentially create the same results.

So…
To sum it up, it is evident that we need to switch from a linear to a circular economy if we want to stop polluting the environment and create a sustainable world. If we continue with a linear economy we will have used up all of the world’s natural resources within a foreseeable future and at the same time destroyed the environment. The maritime industry will also benefit a lot from implementing a circular economy because it will minimize waste and thereby decrease pollution to a minimum and also save shipping companies a lot of money. A lot of methods and best practices within a circular economy have already been implemented with great success in other industries. One of these industries is the automotive one, and especially Daimler has been able to recycle 85 per cent of the materials on one of their specific car models. The best practices and learnings from the automotive industry can also be used in the maritime industry where the same results could be achieved.

For more information: www.re-flow.io

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Should the next generation of ships sail on plastic oceans?

Should the next generation of ships sail on plastic oceans?

Plastic waste has become a huge concern globally and the consequences are damaging. Human beings are throwing away more than half their own weight in plastic every year – 260 million tons globally to be exact. The figure will probably reach 500 million tons by 2030 which is more than doubling in 11 years.

The only bad news is not that we are throwing away 260 million tons of plastic every year, but that it is only 16% of this amount that is recycled. The remaining amount is being either incinerated, landfilled, or dumped or leaked which is, of course, damaging the environment and contributes a lot to the CO2 production.

8 million of the 260 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the sea, killing wildlife and disrupting ecosystems. 2% of this found in the US and Europe, 82% in Asia, and 16% in the rest of the world according to a 2019 report by McKinsey. According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), in 2050 the number of plastics in the oceans will outweigh fish. So, the problem is very real and we need to act now before the plastic waste in the oceans reaches levels so high that it will become almost impossible to solve the problem within a foreseeable future.

The global flow of plastic 2016 (source: McKinsey)

In Denmark, we also see the harm that waste plastics can cause at first hand. On its western coastline alone, 1,000 tons of waste is collected, but luckily 99% of Danes say it is important to act on the challenge of plastics in nature. So, there is a great feeling of responsibility among the Danes when it comes to cleaning the oceans for plastic.

The maritime industry also acknowledges the plastic waste problem in the ocean which led to a project by the organization Ocean Cleanup. It was launched in September 2018 and consists of a U-shaped floater that is 600 meters long and 3 meters deep. The floater is transported out on the ocean by a ship and then it will move with the help of waves and current. The plastic will get caught in the middle of the U-shaped floater and every 2 months a ship will come and collect the plastic, bring it back to shore, and then recycle it. The pilot project was launched in co-operation with Maersk Supply Services who transported the first floater 2200 km outside the coast of San Francisco and then monitored the floater for 2 months. Maersk is also supporting the project with 10 million DKK and contributes a lot to the plastic waste agenda.

The aim is to remove 90% of all the ocean plastic by 2040 and The Ocean Cleanup’s long-term ambition is to install at least 60 systems to remove 50% of the 80,000 tonnes of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within five years. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world and is located between Hawaii and California.

The global flow of plastic 2016 (source: McKinsey)

Another initiative was launched in 2017 when several Danish organizations, companies, and research institutions created a partnership called the Ocean Plastic Forum. The purpose of the partnership is to gather different plastic litter contractors and partners in the solving of small as well as large turnkey projects. The Ocean Plastic Forum was officially inaugurated last month at a kickoff meeting at the Danish Shipping’s office in Copenhagen.

So, there are several projects and initiatives going on at the moment that are focusing on and contributing to cleaning up the plastic waste in the oceans. Even though a lot is being done both in Denmark and internationally, we still have a long way to go before the oceans are completely clean and free of plastic waste. The shipping companies, governments, and the general public need to address the problem in every way in order to reach the EU’s target for recycling plastic packaging which is 55% by 2030. Denmark currently achieves less than a third of this and according to the report by McKinsey, a first step to reaching it can be for municipalities to align their criteria for collecting waste in order to eliminate today’s inefficiency.

Read more at www.re-flow.io

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Winner of SDG Tech Awards 2019

ReFlow announced the Winner of SDG Tech Awards 2019

About SDG Tech Awards:
“The ultimate celebration of sustainable technology in Denmark” this inspiring evening, hosted at IDA’s Respond Festival, boasted groundbreaking startups, large corporates, promising university research, and exciting NGOs. Together, we celebrated the winners of each category for their REAL WORK towards sustainability.

It was a very proud founder that entered the stage during the award ceremony at the SDG Tech Awards when Reflow Maritime was announced as winners in the category for circular economy.

The winner was selected from over 220 nominees by more than 30 expert judges from institutions like: STANFORD, DTU, UNICEF, UNDP, DI, VÆKSTFONDEN, ISS and DELL.

“We are do overwhelmed by the response we have received by winning this award – we are on a journey to facilitate a more sustainable maritime industry. We hope that this award will assist us in underlining the importance of the role that circular economy play in this” states Rasmus Elsborg-Jensen, Founder of ReFlow Maritime.

View the award ceremony here:

Circular Economy: a solution to cutting carbon emissions

Circular Economy: a solution to cutting carbon emissions

The European Green Deal

In 2015, the European Commission launched the EU’s circular economy action plan. The action plan aimed to ensure that the right regulatory framework was in place to give clear signals to economic operators and society on the way forward with long term waste targets and an ambitious set of actions to be carried out before 2020. The 2015 action plan did include a ban on single-use plastics and new recycling targets, however according to the climate panel report delivered by the Danish Innovation fund, still only 9% of more than 90 billion tons of materials are reused. Despite the ambitious goals in the 2015 action plan, the number of non-reused waste has tripled over the last half-decade and is set to double again by the time we reach 2050 unless we slow this tendency drastically.

On the 13th of November, the European Commission announced the importance of embracing the Circular Economy as a direct tool to “bridge half of the gap towards the 1.5C target” as implementing a circular solution can help cut large CO2 emissions. The 1.5C target is a more ambitious target from the earlier aspiration to keep global temperature rise below 2C by the end of this century. The newly appointed Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasized the aim for Europe to cut carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050, where a new circular economy action plan will make up for about half of the carbon cuts. It was also mentioned that National Governments urged for the adoption of a new circular action plan in the industrial sectors, which haven’t been tackled yet in the 2015 action plan. The industries mentioned include textiles, transport, food and the sectors of construction and demolition sectors. With the newly appointed Commission, a second circular economy action plan is being prepared and will be released shortly after the new Commission takes office.

“[The circular economy] will be erected as “the number one priority” of the upcoming European Green Deal.”

Source: Euractiv, 13th Nov 2019

White Paper on solutions to mitigate climate change

On the same day, the 13th of November, the Danish Innovation Fund released its ‘White Paper on solutions to mitigate climate change and assessment of Danish Strongholds’, formulated by the Fund’s Climate Solution Panel. It’s clear that lately fighting climate change has become of big political priority. The Danish Government has responded to the 1.5C target, with the ambition to reduce emissions by 70% by 2030. To reach this target, the White Paper urges the need to find solutions that “require collaborations between business, science, energy, agriculture, transportation, industry, and infrastructure”. Moreover, this entails the adoption of low carbon technologies and production processes as well as universal behavioral changes. This calls for technological innovation, in addition to implementing policies and regulations to accelerate this transition to a low carbon society. The Danish Innovation Fund further mentions how this may enable “Danish innovation to play a key role in the global climate change mitigation efforts”.

Similar to the focus of the European Commission, the White Paper identifies the circular economy as one of the overarching solutions, accompanied by the solutions of using Data, AI and IoT as new connected ecosystems, enabling the decentralization of energy supply and demand.

The White Paper recognizes a lack of inclusion of circular economy in global policies, despite its vast potential to fight global emissions. They mention the disconnect between the efforts to fight climate change and the continued use of natural resources for production and consumption purposes. These manufactured products have the potential, through innovative practices, to extend their lifespan either through recycling or re-utilization. Moreover, mentioning how the circular economy serves as a big part of the resolution as climate solutions need to follow value chains. This is closely related to Sustainable Development Goal 12, targeting sustainable production and consumption patterns, and The Danish Innovation Fund recommends increasing the circular approach to industrial processes, for a more effective energy use and increasing materials lifecycles.

Circular Economy in the Maritime

At Reflow Maritime, we find it evident that the circular economy is an effective solution to cutting carbon emissions and aims at combining technology with an innovative approach to facilitating circular economy in the maritime industry. We believe that the key to engaging maritime components in a circular flow, while simultaneously complying with security standards is to increase traceability on the individual component. Traceability has previously been key to the facilitation of circular economy, for example, industries such as aviation and automobile use traceability to re-utilize components. As the new European Green Deal values circular economy as the number one priority, especially in the industries that haven’t been tackled in the 2015 action plan, we find it obvious that the maritime industry will be affected by this new action plan.

International Maritime Organization has already facilitated strict regulations in NOx and SOx emissions from engine fuels, however, at ReFlow we find it necessary to look into the whole value chain of the vessel. By engaging maritime components into a circular flow, it’s possible to decrease carbon emissions up to 70%, and by increasing traceability on the component, we can ensure that the re-utilization still comply. The circular economy and increase of traceability can be implemented costless, however, the obstacle to tackle is the change of behavior. This change of mindset serves as the biggest challenge to facilitating effective climate change efforts, and therefore the industry needs to be eased into this transition.