As business leaders become more aware of the need for sustainable practices over the years, many have been pondering the dilemma of how to avoid the carbon emissions created by shipping goods around the world, allowing their businesses to continue to run while protecting the planet.
Globally, transport accounts for around a quarter of today’s carbon emissions and has the potential to grow to 60 per cent by 2050. 90 per cent of all products purchased in the UK, be they food, clothing or furniture, arrive by ship, and the maritime industry is responsible for burning heavy fuel oil, marine gas oil and natural gas: some of the most significant carbon emitting fuels on the planet.
To this end, fair trading company Shared Earth has become the first importer in the UK gift, fashion and homeware sectors to decarbonise its shipping, by switching from fossil fuels to biofuels. As of January 2021, Shared Earth’s entire supply chain, over air, road and sea, became 100 per cent carbon neutral.
To accomplish this, the business has begun working with GoodShipping, a sustainability pioneer based in the Netherlands, and made the switch from fossil fuels to biofuels. The biofuels are made from waste and therefore do not compete with food production, nor involve any changes in land use, deforestation or loss of biodiversity.
GoodShipping also works on the ‘mass balance’ principle, whereby the volume of biofuel that will neutralise emissions is fuelled into another ship that would otherwise have run on fossil fuels. Since all carbon-dioxide from shipping is emitted into the same atmosphere, reducing these emissions is equally effective, regardless of which ship uses the biofuels. This approach allows for immediate impact, while having the same net effect in reducing global emissions and averting climate change.
Shared Earth has also extended the same approach to cover journeys by truck from its producers to the overseas port, alongside deliveries from the Shared Earth warehouse to domestic customers in the UK.
Founded in 1986 on fair trading and eco principles, Shared Earth was already a UK leader in supplying low or zero carbon recycled and sustainable products and was still able to be successful as one of the fastest growing wholesalers in the UK, increasing sales by more than 30 per cent each year over the previous seven years. Its commitment to making its transport completely carbon free has only increased its resolve to carry out business in a sustainable manner with the planet in mind.
Managing Director, Jeremy Piercy, believes that the growing demand for sustainable products will only encourage more businesses to opt for the sustainable approach, and aims to keep his business at the forefront of driving carbon-free industry forward.
“Demand for products which will help slow global warming is increasing rapidly; they’re all the rage today. Ironically, businesses which ditch the traditional business mantra of ‘growth, growth, growth’, and opt for sustainability instead, tend to increase their sales, as concern about these issues grows. Public support for tackling climate change is, after all, at its highest ever.
“If we don’t act on climate change, will future generations be asking, ‘why didn’t you act while you had the chance?’ Or will history thank us for what we did to save the world? Shared Earth is delighted to be a trailblazer in the UK in what we hope will become the norm as a way of providing carbon-free products to retailers. I would encourage everyone to jump on board with what we’re doing, for this approach could radically transform our industry for the better.”