Today the Antwerp port community is launching its third Sustainability Report. The report is unique of its kind, as it covers the sustainable enterprise initiatives taken by the many companies in the port. The fact that the report is produced by the port community as a whole is also indicative of the way in which it was drawn up, in extensive dialogue with the various stakeholders. Indeed this dialogue is the key concept behind today’s launch. The United Nations too in its recently approved Sustainable Development Goals points to dialogue as one of the keys to sustainability.
From benchmarking to Best Practice and Award
The first Sustainability Report for the port of Antwerp was presented at the beginning of 2012 by Antwerp Port Authority, the Left Bank Development Corporation and VOKA-Alfaport. This first edition was a benchmarking exercise, i.e. a measurement of the starting points. It also identified sustainable enterprise as the challenge of the 21st century. In that same year the report won the award for the “Best Belgian Sustainability Report.” The second report which went live at the end of 2013 focused on seven main areas, each of which was assessed from the three points of view of “People, Planet and Prosperity,” as sustainability covers much more than just the environment.
Now for this third report the number of subject areas has been extended, but still with the same attention paid to the “3Ps.” In this way the biannual Sustainability Report has developed into a touchstone for the port of Antwerp’s determination to maintain its leadership position in creation of added value. To publicise and lend emphasis to this ambition a Sustainability Award will be presented for the first time in 2016. A project for this will be launched at the end of the year.
Highlights and examples
In the third Sustainability Report, sustainability is measured on the basis of no fewer than 80 indicators, ranging from laws and regulations to quality of the environment, water consumption and emissions. In addition the privacy of customers and the safety of the more than 60,000 port employees are examined, among many other things. For example, when it comes to safety the report notes a downward trend in the number of industrial accidents, but sadly we are still confronted with fatal accidents. In order to reduce harmful emissions it is very important to introduce cleaner means of transport. Truck transport is now significantly cleaner, as 70% of trucks used in the port area have Euro V or Euro VI engines. As for hinterland freight carriage, rail transport is an important point for attention: here, both the volume and the proportion of goods covered by rail are declining. Initiatives such as the Liefkenshoek rail link and Railport should help to reverse this trend. Finally the report shows that many companies are investing in research and innovation in order for them to operate as sustainably as possible. Some examples:
- ADPO (Antwerp Distribution and Product Operations) is a logistics company that focuses on storage of specialty chemicals. In 2014 it set up the first LNG filling station in Belgium where trucks can fill up both with LNG (liquefied natural gas) and with CNG (compressed natural gas). LNG is cleaner than diesel and about one quarter cheaper. ADPO has also purchased 12 trucks powered by LNG and in the longer term it aims to replace all 40 of its trucks. According to a study by the Flemish Institute for Technological Research, LNG is 90% less harmful to the environment than diesel, as it produces lower emissions of particulates, CO2 and nitrogen oxides. The trucks are also less noisy.
- Gyproc Belgium produces plasterboard and plaster systems for the construction industry. In order to control run-off from its site the company has built a “wadi,” i.e. a wide ditch where rainwater collects and is able to percolate slowly into the ground water. This “left-over green area” has now been given a higher ecological value by reprofiling of the land and an appropriate programme of mowing.
The full Sustainability Report can be viewed online. At present it is available only in Dutch; the English version will follow shortly at www.sustainableportofantwerp.com.
Dialogue and other Sustainable Development Goals
The international community too has recently taken an important step towards sustainability: on 25 September the 193 member states of the United Nations unanimously approved the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are the successors to the Millennium Goals, setting the agenda for sustainable development between now and 2030. This is the first time that such objectives have been subscribed by all countries. In the SDGs clear links are made with ecological sustainability, industrial development and social justice.
In order to engage with the positive intentions of the SDGs, at the launch event for the Sustainability Report the port of Antwerp is today committing itself to dialogue with the port of Rotterdam. Eddy Bruyninckx, CEO of Antwerp Port Authority, and Eric van der Schans, Environmental Management Director of the port of Rotterdam, together reflect on the role that the respective ports can play in attaining these SDGs.