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Maritime transport faces a crucial decade to become a more sustainable sector from an economic, social and environmental point of view. Little by little the changes stop being an option to become a necessary responsibility.

The constant increase in commercial demand has driven the maritime movement of goods and therefore the rise in the levels of gases that pollute the environment. Even so, according to the environmental report on European maritime transport, ships produce 13.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector in the EU, behind the emissions generated by land transport (71%) or air (14.4%).

Similarly, container shipping remains the most energy efficient way of transporting cargo on a large scale globally. The more cargo a ship can carry in a single trip, the more efficient the supply chain will be.

What happened to shipping containers?

Focusing on containers themselves, according to maritime research consultancy Drewry, global ocean container volume rose 13% to nearly 50 million TEUs in 2021, triple the previous growth trend. Much of this increase is due to congestion in global supply chains, which meant containers were 15-20% less productive than in the pre-Covid period.

Lessors and ocean carriers ordered a record number of containers, Drewry estimates that there are currently up to 6 mteu of excess containers in global equipment stock.

This leads us to questions such as, what will be the best actions or strategies needed to manage those millions of surplus containers, since they will continue to occupy useful space and the mobilization of those empty containers normally generates much more expenses when the balance in trade world is not equitable and most countries import more than they export.

To this we add that, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ships will reduce the speed of their journeys, which Drewry foresees as a greater occupation of containers not only being on land.

«Little by little, a scenario is being designed in which it will be «mandatory» to improve efficiency in repositioning and empty storage.»
Miguel Navalón, CEO of Navlandis.


The path to sustainable maritime transport

More and more companies are adapting their operating models not only to offer reliable service at low cost, but also to do so responsibly.

And it is that in the current conditions, little attention has been paid to the principles of the «circular economy», whose objective is that the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible. This has been difficult to integrate as the dominant design considerations have been cost efficiency, both in the construction and operational phases, and compliance with minimum standards.

Whether due to the necessary responsibility that we referred to at the beginning or due to compliance with the new regulations, the integration of a more sustainable model in logistics should have the commitment of the entire supply chain.

Instead of optimizing the individual parts of a system, you have to recognize the system as a whole. In practice, this means considering the implications of a decision for other stakeholders and system activities, and finding solutions to their problems from the design phase.

Clearly from this perspective we want to refer to collapsible containers as an essential part of this system of changes from design. This has been a change that needs the involvement of participants and elements of the chain so that its impact generates many more benefits than those already recognized.

Ultimately and globally, everything is in a process of necessary transformation. Since the beginning of our project we have tried to work in order to generate a real impact and be able to put products on the market that have the capacity to provide solutions to these global problems, such as our Zbox folding container.

Change, transformation, adaptation, everything is complex and will always be something constant, only now we need to work for a common goal and not only in the transport sector but much further, in sustaining a planet that gives us the resources to continue folding and unfolding opportunities around the world.

Camila Hurtado

Coordinadora de proyectos subvencionados y de marketing en Navlandis.

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