Port Esbjerg gets up to speed on sustainability

Port Esbjerg has worked with sustainability for many years. Now, the port will be taking sustainability to a new level that sets a common direction for its activities. “We’ll be supporting our customers’ initiatives by promoting sustainable development in the best possible way. This strategy will set the direction for how we’ll achieve this,” says Port Esbjerg’s Chief Commercial Officer, Jesper Bank.

When it comes to sustainability, there is a lot for the port to address, ranging from efficient and sustainable freight transport, the green transformation and socioeconomic contributions, to a safe working environment and reduced climate and environmental impacts from port-related activities. Port Esbjerg has been engaged in numerous different projects for many years, in particular due to its position as the world's leading port for shipping-out offshore wind installations. Yet there is still a need to target this work more specifically, as Chief Commercial Officer Jesper Bank explains.

“Our ambition is to be among the world’s leading ports – also when it comes to sustainability. We want to emphasise our ongoing commitment to contribute to the long-term sustainable development of our core business – for the benefit of our customers and partners,” he says.

As part of this initiative, the port aims to achieve internationally recognised environmental certification.

Three focus areas are setting the direction

The port’s initiatives are split between three focus areas. First of all, the port's own operation and administration must be sustainable. The port already gets its power from the Horns Rev 2 wind farm, just as its rolling stock is being converted to electricity and hybrid power. But this work needs to be intensified. One initiative is the ‘Clean Port’ project that focuses on cleaning of the port basins towards 2025. This project is carried out in cooperation with the Danish Coastal Authority.

Secondly, Port Esbjerg wants to create the best possible framework for the port’s hundreds of companies and thousands of employees. To support its sustainable commercial development, the port intends to be involved in projects concerning land-based power, as well as new ways of leveraging traffic data to reduce environmental impact and increase traffic safety at the port.

The third focus area is the port's commitment to ensuring a sustainable infrastructure. To this end, Port Esbjerg has established a new combi-terminal that offers opportunities of moving freights from road to rail.

"Our new terminal is a fine example of how we can make a difference. For our customers, this will make logistics easier, while we are moving towards more sustainable logistics solutions,” says Jesper Bank, before adding:

“We have a responsibility to contribute, but we can also see that sustainability will be a parameter of competition in the future – for the companies at the port and for us as a port.”

Port Esbjerg works with waste sorting and recycling as part of their focus on sustainability.

Partnering is the key to lasting value

According to Jesper Bank, the strong focus is also a signal that Port Esbjerg wants to be involved in and also to influence the sustainability activities that are taking place both nationally and internationally.

“We have a responsibility to actively seek to establish dialogue nationally and internationally on developing the sustainable infrastructure of the future,” he says.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are a good framework for this dialogue, according to Jesper Bank. The launch of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2016 gave private industry a specific role to play for the first time. It also gave companies across the entire supply chain a new, shared idiom for their sustainability work.

Several of the Sustainable Development Goals are relevant for Port Esbjerg’s activities, as Jesper Bank explains. Perhaps the most important, according to Jesper Bank, is goal 17: Partnerships for the goals.

“It goes without saying that no one can succeed on their own. As a port we need to be part of the right partnerships to find the best solutions,” he says.

This applies, for example, to new business areas like circular economy and energy storage, that may bring about new markets.

“Partnerships are the key to creating lasting value in the long run. There are no quick fixes when it comes to infrastructure. This makes it so vital to find common ground across industries and sectors, if we are to make a really lasting difference,” says Jesper Bank.

“The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are excellent principles for our sustainability activities,” says Jesper Bank.

Work has started

The increased focus on sustainability will result in a sustainability strategy.

To support the process, the port has appointed an HSEQ Manager, who is responsible for driving the work forward. HSEQ is short for Health, Safety, Environment and Quality. The HSEQ Manager's first task is to structure and systematise the port’s sustainability activities.

“Our sustainability measurements are an essential benchmark from which we can develop objectives and ambitions. In the long term, this can help us focus our efforts in the best possible way” says Jesper Bank.

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