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H&M On Board Maersk Carbon-Neutral Ocean Transportation Pilot Project

Maersk is launching a new carbon-neutral fuel product with select customers that are highly engaged and committed to sustainable solutions for their supply chains.

H&M Group is the first company to participate in the trial as part of the shift toward carbon-neutral transportation. The biofuel in the pilot project is the same blend of used cooking oil and heavy oil that was tested and successfully validated in a test project conducted in collaboration with the Dutch Sustainability Growth Coalition and Shell earlier this year. It is certified as a sustainable fuel by the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification body.

“The biofuel trial on board Mette Maersk has proven that decarbonized solutions for shipping can already be utilized today, both technically and operationally,” Søren Toft, Maersk chief operating officer, said. “While it is not yet an absolutely final solution, it is certainly part of the solution and it can serve as a transition solution to reduce CO2 emissions today. With the launch of this product, Maersk seeks to help our customers with their goal of moving to sustainable supply chains.”

Because the biofuel to be utilized is carbon neutral, it provides H&M Group with the ability to reduce its transport and logistics emissions toward the apparel retailer’s aspiration of carbon neutrality, when accounting for only the emissions from the vessel. Maersk said the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials will provide a procedure to ensure that carbon savings are accredited to customers appropriately.

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Taking a full lifecycle view, including emissions from upstream production and transportation, the fuel offers savings of 85 percent compared to traditional bunker fuel used in ocean freight vessels. The goal of the pilot projects is to unlock the potential of sustainable fuels so that they become a commercial reality, Maersk said.

“Our high ambition to become climate positive by 2040 requires cooperation and engagement from all parties in the supply chain,” Helena Helmersson, chief operating officer at H&M Group, said. “We want to use our size to be a force for good and enable scaling innovative solutions, such as the carbon neutral ocean product, for a greener commercial transport.”

Maersk said it will use what it learns from the biofuel project to support a broader program and will continue to co-develop and facilitate the uptake of solutions that will help bring about more cost-efficient, carbon-neutral options for transportation. The company noted that the shift away from fossil fuels can be expensive for shippers, so ensuring wide-scale adoption of carbon-neutral solutions requires technical innovation and supportive global policies.

“We believe this is the only commercially viable path to make the required investments our industry requires to reach the carbon neutral target,” Toft said. “We are so pleased to see a significant shift in sentiment and involvement from customers, fuel suppliers, equipment manufacturers and competitors toward sustainable solutions.”

The container carrier noted that shipping remains the most carbon-efficient means of global transportation today, but still accounts for 2 percent to 3 percent of global emissions. Maersk said this will continue to grow if left unchecked by industry leaders and policy makers.

Maersk added that it will “continue to facilitate, test and develop low-carbon solutions on our journey to 2050.”