Going Green

Westports Takes the Lead in Sustainable Ports Operations

All over the world, industries are becoming more environmentally conscious, and the logistics sector is no different. While greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from sea-borne freight and shipping may not be as high as that of land and air transport, maritime ports play a vital role in reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. As a leading player in the ports industry, being the busiest terminal in Malaysia and the second busiest in Southeast Asia, Westports is taking the initiative to go green.

Speaking to International Business Review, Westports’ Group Managing Director Datuk Ruben Emir Gnanalingam explains that the terminal is committed to reducing its carbon emissions intensity. This is in line with the goal of becoming the leading Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) practising port in Malaysia within five years, and in the world by 2033.

As such the Westports management team has come up with strategies to reduce the terminal’s environmental footprint, recognising that certain port activities such as the movement of cargo and vehicles may contribute to noise, water, land, and air pollution.

For instance, in order to reduce air pollution from lorries and ships, Westports has initiated an emissions monitoring programme and also controls the movement of land vehicles in and out of the terminal. In doing so, it is ensuring the smoother flow of traffic thereby reducing the amount of carbon monoxide that is released into the atmosphere.

With regards to air pollutants from ships, Datuk Ruben is optimistic that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) ruling requiring all ships to switch to low sulphur fuel by January 2020 will help reduce the environmental impact from that part of the port’s business.

We are striving to reduce our fuel usage, and we have managed to handle more cargo this year without using as much fuel. In addition, we are introducing more automation in our processes, which is helping to reduce our carbon footprint.

Ensuring Compliance

Another example of Westports’ commitment to being a green port is that it is certified ISO14001:2004 compliant, which deals with environmental management standards, since 2009. In order to receive and maintain this accreditation, Westports has to make its operational environment data open to inspection by an independent third-party inspector, which checks if the terminal’s operations are in line with the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

Of course being a green port encompasses more than just direct port operations. In a busy terminal like Westports, there would definitely be a lot of documents churned out every day. Thus, as Datuk Ruben noted, “We (Westports) are moving towards reducing paper usage.”

This has not only lowered the amount of paper wasted but also improved efficiency and productivity as workers spend less time looking for documents. At the same time, it has also brought down the costs of maintaining machinery such as printers and scanners.

One example of how Westports has implemented a paperless port system is its use of the e-Gate Pass. This is an electronic invoicing system which was introduced to cut down on business costs and reduce inefficiencies caused by the use of paper. In 2018, over 64,528 out of 71,362 e-Gate Passes were issued on average every month.

Managing Energy 

Energy management is also an important focus area for Westports, as much of its operations depend a lot on the use of diesel. This is mainly consumed by tractors, cranes, tugboats, trucks, forklifts and generators. As such, Datuk Ruben reveals that the terminal is “trying to electrify as much as possible, or at least reduce fuel consumption.”

One way that Westports has set about to reduce its energy usage is by switching all lights at the terminal to energy efficiency ones such as LEDs. In addition, it has also converted conventional high mast fittings into lower power bulbs, compensating for the reduction in light intensity with the use of lenses and reflectors. This has reduced electricity consumption by 50 percent.

Another method that Westports has employed is through the use of hybrid rubber tyred gantry (RTG) cranes, as opposed to diesel powered ones. This has helped to reduce fuel consumption by 53 percent.

Moving forward, Datuk Ruben reveals that Westports is looking to adopt alternative sources of energy such as solar power. Once it does so, it would no doubt result in a huge reduction in its carbon footprint as its electricity will be supplemented by this green source.

Furthermore, he also highlights an effort to plant more oxygen-generating plants around the terminal, with the aim of improving the air quality and making the area look more welcoming to workers and customers.

Beyond the operations of the terminal and the terminal location itself, Westports has also demonstrated its commitment to environmental preservation by sponsoring the Interceptor. This is a vessel created by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat, which is collecting solid waste from the Klang River thus helping to clean it as part of the Selangor Maritime Gateway initiative.

Whether it is monitoring the impact on water, land, and air caused by its operations or simple acts such as reducing the use of paper and plastic in the terminal, Westports has shown itself to be a driver and leader in greening the ports sector. And in doing so, set the standards for, not just other ports in Malaysia, but in the region to follow.

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