ESPO focuses on environmental infrastructure
Some of the main topics for discussion at this year’s ESPO conference were energy, climate change and the environment with a particular focus on putting in place necessary infrastructure going forward.
And the consensus reached by EU ports was that much of this infrastructure needs to be cross-border if Europe is to achieve its goals of intermodality and cleaning up the supply chain.
“Focus on the investment needs of EU ports €48bn in ten years, a lot of this is in basic infrastructure,” said Eamonn O’Reilly, chairman ESPO.
"But it’s a concerted effort on energy, climate change and the environment that is needed in order to make the Connecting Europe Facility work along with cross-border infrastructure.”
Outside the box
It’s a thought echoed by the Port of Rotterdam, this year’s conference host, which is already firmly established as a gateway into Europe.
“We’re a gateway to Europe because we’re well connected and that is what ports are all about,” said Allard Castelein, president & chief executive officer, Port of Rotterdam.
Rotterdam is investing €450m in upgrading infrastructure this year alone and much of this is in new technologies and IoT to help increase efficiency and clean up emissions.
The port is working with the Dutch government to reduce emissions by 49% in light of the Paris agreement.
It is also working with stakeholders to support them with achieving emissions reduction.
Mr Castelein explained that the port is continually conducting research to evaluate its emissions profile.
“The world is not served by only looking at country profiles alone,” he said. “Rotterdam produces 30 million tonnes of carbon, but on a wider scale, an extra 25 million tonnes, so we all need to look outside our borders too.”
A interesting case study of how ports, customers and stakeholders are working to make the whole chain more sustainable was put forward by Jan Kempers, manager sustainable development, Heineken.
Being one of the Port of Rotterdam’s biggest customers, it is also one of the country’s most recognisable brands exporting two thirds of its products through the port.
It is working to create a climate neutral supply chain, with a focus on energy, water, raw materials, mobility and the environment.
“Material scarcity and legislation will push producers towards recycling and renewable supply chain, but 89% has to be realised by supply chain providers,” said Mr Kempers.
In order to achieve these goals, the brewery is working with its partners in a project called Green Circles which aims to take a holistic approach to making the whole supply chain more sustainable.
The value of the project, says Mr Kempers, is that it wants to create a “Carbon neutral economically sustainable solution that can be applied to other logistics supply chains.”
The Zoeterwoude brewery is gradually switching to renewable power using wind energy to supply 43% of the electricity currently required.
It is also working with water chain partners to utilise water flows more efficiently and develop a future-proof economy that deals with raw materials in a circular manner.
This includes working on learning how to recycle phosphate and digestate, recycling spent grain to feed dairy cattle and dealing with residual waste flow.
With regards to the local living environment, it wants to see the return of bees to the landscape through the improvement of industrial sites, municipal parks and other areas of greenery, gardens, and road verges.
It is also working to increase the amounts of shrubs and trees, plus give watercourse nature-friendly banks, providing shelter for frogs, young fish, and dragonflies.
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