Meriaura Group's vision is to be the leading forerunner in environmentally friendly, innovative and solution-oriented shipping and sea transport services. We are committed to promoting environmental values in our daily work and to continually seeking cost-effective solutions to environmental challenges. Our ships operate in sensitive sea areas which makes understanding and managing risks important. The most significant environmental effects of maritime transport are exhaust emissions caused by fuel combustion, and wastewater.
Environment and Sustainability
During the year 2021, despite the changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been able to improve on many environmental and responsibility issues. In the beginning of 2021, a full-time environmental and responsibility specialist started working at Meriaura Group. We also published the first Sustainability report in our history. Sustainability reports are just making their way to the shipping industry. We felt it was important to be among the first ones to promote sustainability in maritime transport. In the future, we will report on our achievements in this field in the form of an annual report. Corporate Sustainability & ESG Reporting should not just be about finding compliance with legislation. We aim to report the activities that go beyond the obligations of legislation.
In spring 2021, we started the development of an environmental management system with the aid of EcoCompass-programme. Although we have worked with environmental projects for a long time, with a certified environmental system we are able to reduce and manage the adverse environmental impacts of our operations more effectively and commit to the principle of continuous improvement. The system covers the impact of all our operations both at sea and on shore. The certificate is based on international environmental management standards and the system helps us to communicate our environmental achievements in a transparent and credible manner. With the basic mapping of the Ecocompass and the target program, we will later move towards the introduction of the ISO 14001 standard. For the period 2021- 2022, we have selected the following areas for development: Waste reduction and sorting, Material efficiency, Chemicals, Staff mobility, Communication, Influencing and Biodiversity.
Aim for 100% Greenhouse Gas Neutrality
In March 2021, we announced that we had begun preparing and designing a transport concept that aims for a 100% greenhouse gas neutrality. Our concept for the future is based on a hybrid propulsion that combines sustainably produced bio-oil and battery technology. Meriaura Group's goal is to launch in 2024 the first transportation concept based on renewable energy since the era of large sailing ships. In addition to innovative energy solutions, the aim is to automate the cargo handling process and other functions and to take full advantage of the opportunities brought by digitalisation. At the same time, we have been working on development of our bio oil with numerous studies and tests. We have a strong belief in recycled bio-oil as a partial solution to achieving rapid emission reductions. By curbing climate change, we can also influence the state of the Baltic Sea.
Baltic Sea Commitment
During 2021 we also joined the Baltic Sea Challenge Network. Our Baltic Sea Commitment is in line with the objectives of our zero waste program, which aims to minimize the environmental footprint of our fleet. We strive to reduce the amount of all ship-generated waste, streamline processes on board ships, increase the reuse of materials and improve recycling. We strengthen our onboard wastewater policy by comprehensive guidelines and a monitoring system aimed at minimizing the amount of wastewater and food waste that ends up at sea.
The ability of ports to handle and receive different waste fractions is in key position in minimizing the environmental strain of ships. Together with other actors, we aim to contribute to the development and diversification of port-based waste reception systems. Some achievements have already taken place: there are several ports in Finland that did not previously receive wastewater from cargo ships that occasionally visited the port. However, several ports have begun to do so on our initiative. Legislation would also need to be tightened in many respects, as the state of the Baltic Sea would require the cessation of all emissions.
Jussi Mälkiä and Riinu Walls , Meriaura Group
Both the development targets of the Ecocompass environmental system and the ‘Active Baltic Sea Citizenship’ of the Baltic Sea Challenge include actively communicating about the actions we have taken for the benefit of the environment.
Training our employees and encouraging them to take environmental responsibility into account in their daily operations is part of all the environmental work we do. We also wish to positively influence the attitudes of our staff, e.g. in terms of a more climate- and Baltic Sea-friendly diet and in terms of reducing food waste, both on land and at sea.
Text and Photos by Meriaura Group
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Meriaura Group is a Member Company of the Association of Finnish Waterways.