Transparency was order of the day for more than 30 representatives from member companies at the recent Clean Cargo Working Group (CCWG) meeting. Carriers (those who move the cargo) and shippers (those who need their cargo moved) came together in Copenhagen for a packed agenda that tackled issues on both sides of the loading dock.

Accounting for more than 60 percent of the ocean-going container cargo, the CCWG brings together ocean carriers, freight forwarders, and global retailers to improve environmental performance of goods transport. The group addresses this challenge by measuring impacts, sharing information, and integrating environmentally and socially responsible business principles into transportation management.

The spring meeting provides the group the opportunity to review and discuss carriers’ annually submitted environmental performance results. In pursuit of continuously enhancing the transparency and accuracy of the CCWG Performance Metrics tools and data submitted to it, we piloted third-party verification for one carrier’s 2009 data. By the end of the year, the group now aims to finalize a process suitable for verifying all carriers' CO2 and SOx emissions data for 2010.

We also discussed the information that shippers need from carriers in order to make procurement decisions and report more extensively on their total carbon footprint and other environmental impacts—a key issue for the group. IKEA highlighted that, thanks to the CCWG, it was able to report on its transportation impacts more specifically in their 2009 Sustainability Report.

Carriers also noted their need for “benchmarkable” information that can be used both internally to gain the required buy-in to invest in greener technologies and behaviors and externally to address the increasing customer demand from both shippers and freight forwarders for performance data. This will ultimately drive continuous improvement in environmental performance across the industry.

Finally, the group rallied around raising awareness of CCWG efforts and the performance measurement tools that have been developed, encouraging their broader adoption, and working more closely with other related initiatives. Collaborating with other initiatives will provide the best course of action for all stakeholders involved. After all, carriers want to be able to complete a single data submission, and shippers want to be able to review a single standard and widely-accepted performance index.

With significant representation from shippers, carriers, and freight forwarders, the group continues to drive greater transparency and collaborative solutions for improved environmental performance along the entire value chain.

The next in person CCWG meeting will be in New York on November 1 and 2, just before the BSR Conference 2010.