The carbon footprint of the shipping industry has long been a cause for concern. So I was interested to receive an email from Heineken claiming significant reductions in CO2 emissions as a direct result of shifting its freight operations between Mexico and USA from road to the open seas. Here's the scoop from their pitch:
HUSA has reduced CO2 emissions by 14% as a result of exporting its Mexican beers (including Tecate and Dos Equis) to the USA by water instead of land. As background, HUSA first began to pilot three sea-based distribution routes two years ago, shipping its Mexican beers from Laredo, Mexico to Miami, Savannah and New York. These initial pilots were so successful that HUSA expanded the program to Houston (2015) and Chicago (2016). In addition to saving 13,228 tons of CO2 per year, HUSA has reduced damage to packaging and goods, saved money, and seen other service level improvements.
What's interesting to me is that these savings are being achieved using—presumably—existing ships and shipping technology. Imagine what could be achieved once the shipping industry gets serious about cleaning up its act.
Whether it's Maersk's super-sized ships or experiments with going slow, or Beluga SkySails efforts in kite-powered shipping, it's fair to say that the sheer wastefulness of the current shipping industry suggests there is considerable room for improvement. If companies are already saving emissions moving from road to sail, then we can expect even bigger savings in the years to come.