By David Milne, Director of KC Group Shipping

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plays an important part to our operations and delivery, as well as assisting our clients throughout their supply chain.

Shipping and Marine magazine recently asked for our thoughts on the advantages of CSR within the shipping industry. You can read the full article below.

If CSR plays an important part to your operations, contact one of our advisors to find out how we can make a difference for you.

There is much more to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) than ticking boxes as businesses throughout the logistics chain are now discovering – sometimes to their cost. The pressure comes, not just from legislation, but from larger corporate organisations putting CSR ever-more central to their operations. Emphasising the importance of CSR to suppliers, researching their existing supply chain and sending out CSR check-sheets to existing suppliers are seen as vital to keeping programmes on track.

There is absolutely no doubt this pressure will remain on the shipping industry – with continuing investigations and demands growing on the logistics supply chain. Companies that fail to keep up will be at a growing disadvantage, of that there is no doubt. They will lose out on business.

Many companies in the logistics and shipping sector, ours included, are already working with their customers to ensure that they meet and support their CSR and environmental goals. That may mean complying with their wishes to see more of their freight on rail rather than road – or it can mean demonstrating to them our commitment to the environment and our CSR by the policies and actions we take. We also have ISO18001 accreditation that highlights our sustainability and environmental awareness and we work with our local community in sponsoring youth development.

However, it must be stressed this is about much more than box-ticking. CSR is good for business and it's also good for the way we do business and work with our clients, colleagues and partners. There are many different definitions of CSR – many used to see it as a fluffy, aspirational subject. It isn't, it is crucial to how business is done and is seen to be done today.

One of the best definitions produced puts it simply. "It is about how companies manage their business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society." 

That obviously covers a wide range of issues – from the way an organisation works with its community to its relationship with its staff and its attitude to a cleaner and greener environment. The environment is an important aspect to all this. The World Shipping Council stresses that maritime shipping is the world's most carbon-efficient form of transporting goods - far more efficient than road or air transport.

However, the work goes on to further improve the fuel efficiency and carbon footprint of vessels – and to reduce the carbon footprint of freight once it is landed at its destination. But it's not just at sea that carbon reducing measures need to be taken. On land, developments like the new London Gateway deepwater container terminal are being hailed as a way of reducing emissions. A study has estimated that the newly-opened port and its new logistics park will save 148,000 tons of carbon dioxide from British supply chains per year, because of shorter journey times for 2,000 trucks per day.

Back at sea, we are also seeing efforts being made by shipping companies to reduce their carbon footprints. Slower steaming, pioneered by Maersk Line, is helping cut emissions. So is technology. At a Green Technologies Seminar held in Singapore last year more than 150 shipping industry executives gathered to discuss the subject, emphasising its importance to them and their organisations.

Meanwhile, shipbuilders continue to make strides to create greener vessels. That drive for cleaner technology, fuelled by the volatility of energy prices, will continue to accelerate. So too will the demand on companies to demonstrate their clear CSR policies, commitment and action. There is no doubt that CSR makes sound business sense, with the consumers of the future also aware of its importance when it comes to their decision-making.

A study by the Good Research Partnership and British Youth Council found young people aged 11-25 are more likely to buy from firms that invest in local areas, support community projects and give to good causes. The internet-savvy consumer of the future understands and believes in the need for social responsibility and is prepared to make decisions based on how organisations are performing.

Sustainability plays another key role in all this. The need for organisations to reduce their carbon footprints is paramount to CSR.

This is being driven by both legislation and climate change policies externally and shareholder and consumer pressure internally. Larger companies are looking to buy and use green energy – and to show clearly how they are reducing their carbon impact on the environment and meeting their own targets. This includes the carbon footprint of their logistics and supply chain.

For smaller-sized companies, it might include the introduction of renewable energy strategies, such as wind turbines on their land or solar PV panels on the roof of their building. The challenges are many and they will continue to grow. Companies that rise to them and respond will become stronger and more successful as a result. That is what all businesses, including logistics and freight shipping, have to respond to.


KC Group Shipping offers a complete supply chain solution and full-cycle consultancy. The consultancy offering enables the group to audit its customers' entire shipping activities and advise on the best solutions to optimise shipping and logistics, maximise cost-effectiveness and to reduce their carbon footprint. Find out more today.




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