Maersk Line, extending its environmental initiatives to equipment, will phase out the purchase of containers with floors made of uncertified tropical hardwood this year in a bid to reduce demand for illegally logged wood.
The world’s largest container ship operator said all the containers it has purchased since January have floors made of timber from suppliers using responsible forestry practices, or alternatives such as bamboo and recycled plastic.
Maersk will accept tropical hardwood verified as legally compliant by the Forest Stewardship Council through 2011 while production of other floor types is scaled up.
Maersk has already purchased 64,000 containers that comply with its new procurement policy and plans to buy an additional 3 million boxes in the next five years, more than doubling its current container fleet.
“A large percentage of the container fleet will therefore have new alternative floors boards with a relative short time span,” Maersk said.
Certified floors will be in all Maersk Line containers within 18 years, the typical life span of a container.
“Illegal logging is widely recognized as a serious threat to forests, people and wildlife,” said Jacob Sterling, head of climate and environment at the carrier. “We feel obligated to use our purchasing power to push for higher standards and ensure that the timber we use for container floors comes from responsible forestry.”
The container industry currently uses some 1.2 million to 1.5 million cubic meters of hardwood annually to meet demand for new boxes, according to Maersk.
Maersk Container Industry in Dongguan, China, produced its first FSC-labeled container for Maersk Line in April. The box was fitted with a hardwood floor from certified responsible forestry.
In November, French carrier CMA CGM began a six-month trial of an eco-container manufactured with non-wood composite flooring.