When GoodShipping called us with the offer to transport our Doppers sustainably, it was a moment to remember. We could practically hear the angelic choir and, according to eyewitnesses, our Supply Chain Planner hovered a foot above her desk chair. Hallelujah! Container ships using 100% renewable biofuel? Of course we’d take the plunge with GoodShipping!
Our bottles end up all over the world. Everyone’s drinking tap water! Great. But although container ships are way more eco-friendly per product than air freight, shipping is far from clean. Understatement of the year. Anniek Sluis (Anniek ‘sluice’, what’s in a name), Growth Accelerator at GoodShipping: ‘The heavy fuel oil in the container ships is nothing short of the sludge out of the drain at oil refineries. It’s very polluting. Not only that, but there’s simply a huge amount of shipping. You might not realise it, but out of everything you buy – in the supermarket, clothing, furniture – 90% is shipped per boat.’ And, of course, your Dopper Steel has bobbed about somewhere on the oceans too.
Time to clean the decks then! ‘That’s easier said than done’, says Anniek: ‘sludge out of a drain is of course cheaper than a sustainable biofuel. So, it’s tricky to make headway. Even if costs weren’t a deal-breaker, some sustainable alternatives mean the engine has to be overhauled, and other alternatives aren’t suitable for longer distances.’ But luckily, GoodShipping came along *start ‘Eye of the Tiger’*.
GoodShipping buys advanced biofuels from GoodFuels: 100% renewable fuel that can be directly used by any container ship. No engine tweaking required. Not only that, it’s the Virgin Mary among biofuels. Unsullied! Anniek: ‘For example, other biofuels use the waste flow from the palm oil industry as the basis, or stimulate deforestation during the production process. GoodFuels’ biofuels are made, for example, from waste cooking oil or from Crude Tall Oil (waste flow from the paper and pulp sector). In terms of shipping that means a 100% CO2 reduction. During the fuel’s production we can’t avoid a certain degree of CO2 emission, so across the board it’s like an 85% reduction in CO2. Great! We jumped straight on board.
‘Dopper wants to save the planet in all sorts of areas; that’s in our DNA. We are glad to be the frontrunner, to inspire others. We show it really can be done differently and more sustainably. In any discipline. It’s fantastic to see other sustainable initiatives pop up,’ says Merijn (Dopper founder).
In reality, little changes: the same factory, the same carrier, the same ship. And even the same fuel. Hang on a minute? ‘As long as sustainable fuels aren’t the norm, we can’t promise that the ship with your products is running on our biofuel,’ Anniek explains. ‘If we would, we’d have to criss-cross the globe with our biofuel as our customers’ goods are on ships everywhere.’ How it actually works: using the route and your freight volume GoodShipping calculates how much (regular) fuel you would need for the shipment. GoodShipping buys that quantity of biofuel from GoodFuels and Dopper pays a surcharge for it. A container ship in the Port of Rotterdam is then refueled with biofuel, instead of (some of) the regular fuel. So, is this like Carbon Offsetting? CO2 emissions, plant a tree, clean karma. ‘This is different, this process actually means that you’re reducing CO2 emissions’, explains Anniek. ‘Just not specifically at the ship ferrying your products.’
GoodShipping has only been around for eighteen months, and last year signed up its first customer: Tony’s Chocolonely. Social enterprises in particular seem very enthusiastic about this initiative, but slowly but surely, they’re talking to larger corporates as well. ‘Last year we really got a lot of attention. We held TED Talks, won an Accenture Innovation Award, and many others. We’ve only just started, but have huge ambitions. Ultimately, our aim is to see sustainable alternatives become the norm – biofuels, hydrogen or electric powered shipping – and for us to become redundant.’ Eradication. That’s a dream for Merijn too. That we’ve drunk all oceans clean, and that single-use plastic water bottles are no longer on sale in the supermarkets. Merijn: ‘Until such a time, we'll do all we can to make an impact. To that end we’re keen to work together on initiatives such as GoodShipping.’