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Saving Our Oceans, One Step at a Time

World Oceans Day gives shippers a unique opportunity to honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans

Spanning three-quarters of the Earth’s surface and representing 99 percent of the “living space” on the planet (by volume), the world’s oceans are precious resources that are often taken for granted—assuming that they will always “be there” ready, willing, and able to support mankind.

“The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents, and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind,” according to the United Nations. “Throughout history, oceans and seas have been vital conduits for trade and transportation. Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future.”

That “sustainable future” has become a critical topic in today’s world, where nearly 40% of the world’s oceans are heavily impacted by human activities, including pollution, depleted fisheries, and loss of coastal habitats.

“Oceans are very important,” the UN states. “They generate most of the oxygen we breathe, they help feed us, they regulate our climate, they clean the water we drink, they offer a pharmacopoeia of medicines, and they provide limitless inspiration.”

Our Oceans, Our Future 

To help raise awareness of these and other facts—and to get organizations and individuals focused on the importance of healthy oceans—The Ocean Project has been promoting and coordinating World Oceans Day annually since 2002.

A holiday recognized by the United Nations, World Oceans Day is a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future. The purpose is to provide free resources and ideas for everyone – no matter where they live, according to the U.N., to help expand the reach and impact of World Oceans Day on June 8th and year-round.

This year, the event theme is “Our Oceans, Our Future.” Centered on finding better solutions to plastic pollution and preventing marine litter for a healthier ocean and a better future, the event “provides a unique opportunity to honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans.”

Utilizing Sustainable Logistics Practices 

DB Schenker takes World Oceans Day very seriously and, in fact, works year-round to introduce and utilize sustainable logistics practices.

Lisette Nap, DB Schenker’s Vice President of Global Ocean Business Development, oversees a worldwide team that pays close attention to operational strategies, the company’s market positioning, and the implementation of sustainable business practices. As a company, DB Schenker moves about 2 million 20-foot equivalents (TEUs) annually—a number that continues to grow year-over-year.

Focused on maximizing space and consolidating loads, the company avoids putting “fully maximized” cargo on the water. “We don’t ever want to be shipping empty containers around,” says Nap, “or unnecessarily moving cargo around the world that hasn’t been maximized. The goal is to ship the correct cargo in a very safe and secure manner—from healthcare products to electronics to Formula 1 race cars…and everything in between.”

Respecting Mother Nature  

With World Ocean Day right around the corner, Nap says her department understands the role that it plays in protecting the world’s oceans and other critical natural resources. This year, for example, it is rolling out a “paperless” operation to ensure less waste and conserve resources. It also closely follows safety and security measures, builds solid relationships with reputable global carriers, and works closely with those partners to ensure that ships are indeed running efficiently on their global routes.

“We all need to have respect for Mother Nature,” says Nap, “and for us, that means making sure that the products we’re shipping are in compliance with global rules, and that the companies we do business with are also using sustainable practices.” Slow steaming, for example, finds container ships running at significantly less than their maximum speed, thus reducing the amount of diesel fuel used and the quantity of emissions generated by those vessels.

DB Schenker also recently participated in the 35th annual Baynanza in Miami, which was created as part of a larger effort to save Biscayne Bay. There, the team of 40+ company volunteers helped plant trees and remove refuse and garbage from the beach. “We’ll be doing similar events around the world,” says Marcus Leaver, Head of Global Ocean Freight, “in the interest of getting all of our employees involved and ‘giving back’ to Mother Nature.”

The company also develops emissions calculations for its customers, in an effort to pinpoint the most environmentally- and emissions-friendly logistics and transportation options. “We spend a lot of time with our customer base, looking at their supply chain practices and how cargo actually moves,” says Leaver, “to help them be more responsible, stay compliant, and respect the environment that they’re operating in.”

Let’s Not Forget About the Animals

No discussion about ocean health would be complete if it didn’t include the marine animals that live in and support those bodies of water.  Oceans contain nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions, according to the UN. “We rely heavily on the oceans for transport, so we want to make sure that the animals living in them are protected and safe,” says Nap, whose department is in the middle of rolling out an Adopt a Marine Animal program as part of its world beach cleanup initiative.

“Whether it’s a dolphin, tortoise, whale, or other species, we’d like to help the world’s science institutes study the animals and better understand them,” says Leaver. “We know that those groups need more contributions to get their valuable work completed, so we want to help.”

In the end, all of DB Schenker’s ocean conservation efforts come down to one stark reality:  the ocean is a critical part of the supply chain, but its resources aren’t infinite. Nor can they stand up to the abuse that mankind is inflicting on them (e.g., oceans absorb about 30% of the world’s carbon dioxide).

“Without the ocean, we wouldn’t be able to transport those 2 million TEU’s around the globe annually—from raw materials to the consumer market,” says Leaver. “We recognize this, and we’re taking steps to help protect this very valuable, natural resource.”

Click here to learn more about World Ocean Day and about how you can participate in this very important annual event. 

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