Two days back, I wrote about Blockshipping - a Scandinavian company who through their Global Shared Container Platform (GSCP) is trying to revolutionize the container shipping industry. Upon further investigation, I've come to believe that Blockshipping is more relevant than I what thought it to be, initially and therefore deserves a lot of praise.
Over the years, container shipping has evolved to become the most popular method of international trade. They are cheap, durable and efficient. But these container ships are not without environmental issues - For instance, they release CO2 and other harmful gases like NO2. In fact, many experts rate Containers ships highly among the world's worst air polluters.
Another major issue associated with container ships is Vessel Discharge, referring to substances that are released into the marine waters. The discharges include ballast water, bilge water etc. Ballast water simply refers to water that is used as ballast to stabilize vessels at sea Incidentally, when a ship takes ballast water, it takes with it the aquatic organisms (fish, plants) that live there. Further, upon reaching the destination after traveling thousands of miles, this ballast water is released to create a potentially "invasive marine species" that is detrimental to that ecosystem. There are rules governing ballast discharge, but unfortunately, they are difficult to enforce due to the absence of a proper universal tracking system.
Also, there have been notable instances when oil and fuel have been accidentally discharged to the sea. All of these have a negative impact on the marine environment and they affect the aquatic ecosystems.
It's a given that the above environmental concerns need to be addressed and interestingly, our boy Blockshipping (and GSCP) assumes relevance here, as it would help combat some of these issues by introducing sophisticated technologies that will govern movement, repositioning, and tracking of the container ships.
The GSCP will have a Container Asset Registry that will act like a database of containers ships also allowing real-time tracking of these ships. This will be of great use in tracking down ships that do not play by the rules that have been stipulated by the World Shipping Council (WSC) or the UNEP. Further, in case of an emergency like an accidental oil spill that needs to be immediately contained, the GSCP can track down the damage, coordinate the rescue mission etc. Also, by effectively repositioning "empty containers", not only is the fleet cost reduced but also the environmental impact is reduced by getting rid of redundant containers.
As a testimony to the above, an analysis conducted by a notable Scandinavian-based consultancy firm called Opsiana concludes that the GSCP platform is expected to reduce the global CO2 emission by at least 4.6 million tons annually. In summary, Blockshipping and the GSCP platform, while their primary objective is to revitalize the container shipping industry, assume great relevance when it comes to the subject of environmental protection.