IKEA and shipping giant CMA CGM to pilot first sustainable marine biofuel

IKEA and shipping giant CMA CGM to pilot first sustainable marine biofuel

Chemicals over a container ship
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Synthetic biology is the design and construction of new biological entities such as enzymes, genetics and cells, or the redesign of existing biological systems.

Under a partnership announced among Swedish furniture giant IKEA, shipping group CMA CGM, the Port of Rotterdam and non-profit the GoodShipping Program, the first container ship will refuel with the new biofuel on March 19.

The biofuel took three years to develop by GoodFuels, and is made from "forest residues" — waste from paper and pulp production — and waste cooking oil. It is expected to cut CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent and "virtually eliminate" sulfur oxide emissions compared to standard marine fuel, without requiring any modifications to ship engines.

CMA CGM did not reveal details of the ship's voyage or destination, and it is unclear whether it will carry IKEA goods. BusinessGreen understands IKEA has paid for a volume of the biofuel to be used in the test, offsetting the emissions of transporting its cargo on another vessel. 

"Through our pilot we want to show that the means for decarbonization in terms of alternative fuels are available," said Elisabeth Munck af Rosenschöld, head of sustainability for IKEA Global Transport and Logistics Services. "We have a responsibility to do our part to reduce the impact of our ocean freight. Through our participation we send a signal to our customers and the ocean industry on our commitment to decarbonize."

Shipping currently contributes to around 3 percent of global emissions, but emissions are likely to grow by between 50 percent and 250 percent by mid-century if left unchecked.

The shipping sector, not covered under the Paris Agreement, has promised to produce a detailed carbon reduction plan by 2023, targeting a 50 percent cut in emissions by 2050.

But the sector has faced fierce criticism from environmental campaigners, who say the target is not ambitious enough and accuse the industry of moving far too slowly to implement emissions cuts.

Organizers of the biofuel pilot say they hope the move will help demonstrate the scalability of waste-based marine biofuels and spur "development of realistic options to curb greenhouse gas and sulfur oxide emissions from shipping."

"The aim of our program has always been not only to reduce carbon emissions from shipping, but to show that the means to accelerate the energy transition are already available for the sector to grasp," said Dirk Kronemeijer, CEO, The GoodShipping Program. "Together we send a very clear message: sustainable biofuels are ready today, and we can meet the pathways laid out by the IMO in a manner that is attractive to major cargo owners such as IKEA."

If the pilot is successful, IKEA said it would "put the equivalent of at least all our containers out of Rotterdam on biofuel."

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