Navigation and Content

It’s all ahead full for carbon neutral ocean freight shipping

With new options for booking sustainable marine fuel (SMF) in global shipping and eager partners looking to claim carbon footprint reductions, greener ocean logistics are building up a full head of steam.

Checking vital signs in container shipping

Having a duty to the planet, the Ocean Freight Experts at DHL Global Forwarding are leading the advance of sustainable shipping.

Behind every cargo container stacked high on the deck of an ocean freighter is a company keeping close tabs on its 'vital signs': its weight, the value of its contents, and its carbon footprint.

Nowadays, with an Internet of Things in logistics, these parameters are getting easier to measure. But while companies have a large degree of control over the weight and value of their own products, influencing the carbon footprint of their ocean freight shipments was a more difficult prospect. Traditionally, companies held little sway over the carbon emissions generated in overseas transport. Ocean freight carriers and ship operators made the decisions pertaining to fuel mixes, operational efficiency, and environmental protection efforts.

But the tides have turned: options for booking Sustainable Marine Fuels (SMF) and claiming verified carbon footprint reductions mean that customers now have a say in the environmental impact of their ocean freight. In fact, just about any company shipping products by sea can take an active role in reducing their carbon emissions - and that includes international fashion brands.

More ships and trains, less flights

Lindex is one of Europe's leading fashion companies, with approximately 460 stores in 19 markets. They're also an industry-leader when it comes to sustainable fashion: Lindex has committed to climate neutral operations by 2023 and to cutting C02 emissions in their entire value chain by half through 2030. 

Nearly 90% of all Lindex's goods are transported by boat, which means reducing the carbon footprint of their shipments is a huge step toward achieving their sustainability goals. That's why DHL's options for utilizing SMF are a perfect match as Lindex pursues a reduced carbon footprint in its shipping operations.

Lindex's fashionably small footprint


climate neutral in own operations by 2023


value chain CO2 emissions by 2030


of all goods transported by ship


DHL customer with decarbonized ocean freight trade lane

Decarbonizing all of Lindex's ocean freight shipments is a surprisingly easy undertaking, even if it seems complex at first glance:

In theory, Lindex could have products shipping in multiple cargo containers on multiple boats at any given time. Even if working out the exact amount of fuel needed to transport each kilogram of product over a given route involves routine calculation, it would be an impractical – and logistically impossible – exercise to add precisely that amount of SMF to the tank of each ship.

Instead, companies like Lindex can use DHL's ‘book & claim’ system. Lindex books a total volume of SMF that corresponds to the company's carbon footprint across all their shipments. A corresponding amount of SMF is purchased by DHL and added into the overall ocean freight shipping system, which Lindex can claim with an independently-verified carbon reduction certificate. 

Adding sustainability to DHL's mix

Lindex became a pioneer in carbon-reduced ocean freight logistics by becoming the first company to take advantage of DHL's GoGreen Plus service for both full-container-load (FCL) and less-than-container-load (LCL) shipments. These can be booked on platforms such as myDHLi.

Sustainable marine fuels are an important part of GoGreen Plus, and we are working actively to increase our access to them. In November 2022, for example, we expanded our long-standing partnership with GoodShipping, the global pioneer and market leader in insetting. In addition to purchasing approximately 60 million liters of SMF, the collaboration now includes piloting a new insetting framework created by the the Smart Freight Centre.

Want it Delivered?

Why go looking for the latest logistics trends and business insights when you can have them delivered right to you?

What is ‘book & claim’?

A company ‘books’ a certain volume to cover its shipping needs...

DHL purchases the equivalent amount of sustainable fuel...

The sustainable fuel is added to the overall ocean freight fuel mix...

The company ‘claims’ a reduced carbon footprint.

Bringing it all together

Booking and claiming SMF is the easy part, but how do you track your emissions and understand your carbon footprint? One way is with myDHLi.

myDHLi is our digital customer platform for end-to-end visibility of supply chains and logistics operations. The portal integrates online quotation and booking with shipment tracking, document accessibility, and data analytics – and includes innovative features to reduce carbon emissions, predict arrival times, and customize communications.

In myDHLi, customers can book SMF for ocean freight shipments and SAF for air freight shipments. The sustainable fuel is not physically added to the actual aircraft or vessel that carries their cargo, but insetting ensures it’s purchased and pumped in an engine somewhere in the global supply chain (read more about insetting here). The integrated GoGreen Dashboard in myDHLi Analytics ensures you can track your emissions across the supply chain down to a single shipment.

The latest version of myDHLi comes with a Smart ETA feature that automatically forecasts each shipment’s estimated time of arrival. It can improve ETA predictions by up to 48% over carrier estimates. And the myDHLi Follow + Share feature mirrors many popular social media functions, enabling users to follow shipments and share information with customers, colleagues, and suppliers more easily and efficiently.

The insights and functionality of cutting-edge technology like myDHLi are becoming benchmarks in the logistics industry, and we have no plans to slow the pace of our digital transformation. That’s because we understand that digital is the doorway to decarbonization.

The one atmosphere approach

Our roadmap to sustainability focuses on meeting three key commitments: Clean operations for climate protection. Great company to work for all. Highly trusted company.

DHL's sustainable fuel solution centers around a concept called the one atmosphere approach. Recognizing that it is not relevant for the environment in which container vessel biofuels are used instead of fossil fuels, DHL prioritizes an increased share of sustainable fuel in the ocean shipping network and a clear accounting and verification process for its customers. For air cargo, we’re pursuing a similar strategy using Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

Working with early adopters like Lindex, we’re expanding the use of 'book and claim' and increasing the blend of SMF worldwide. After all, whether its fashion or logistics, sustainability is always a good look.

DHL GoGreen Solutions

Decrease Emissions. Increase Efficiency. Emission friendly choices to meet all your transportation needs.

Updated: November 2022

Related videos, links & information