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Moving the Green Needle: The IMPA SAVE Initiative Reshaping Maritime Procurement

Established in June 2020 by a strong group of global ship-owners and maritime suppliers under the umbrella of the International Marine Purchasing Association (IMPA), IMPA SAVE has been working with the industry’s best and brightest companies to bring knowledge of sustainable solutions to the maritime procurement sector. In this article, we engage with Mikael Karlsson, IMPA SAVE Chair and IMPA Special Ambassador for Sustainability, to learn exactly how IMPA SAVE has been slowly transforming the sector as we know it.

What is IMPA SAVE?

IMPA SAVE was started back in 2020 on a need for action and doing the right thing. It was formed by a handful of our industry’s sustainability frontrunners who had a keen interest in corporate responsibility and procurement with purpose, and continues to be steered nowadays by representatives of Northern Marine (myself), Maersk, Weco Shipping, Wilhelmsen Ship Management, Scorpio Group, OneCare Solutions and ReFlow. Nowadays, IMPA SAVE is an award-winning programme in the agenda of close to 15% of the global fleet and tens of maritime suppliers—over 100 companies in total—and its mantra is simple and essential to guarding the people, our planet, profit and our higher purposes: save the environment to save costs.

What does IMPA SAVE do?

There is no point emphasising yet again the shipping industry’s impact on the environment, which is significant and all too well known. Supply chain management professionals behind IMPA SAVE are aware that companies must minimise their climate footprint as much as possible, and, while long-lasting change can and should be actioned by legislators, companies sharing IMPA SAVE’s ethos believe that it is also their responsibility to adopt sustainable policies and implement responsible solutions at organisational level.

Through IMPA SAVE, we aim to develop several streams of work areas for shipping companies and maritime suppliers that aim to improve the way things are done and lessen the negative environmental impact in the process. These focus areas are, and will be, always loosely connected to ensuring a healthy and productive ocean by 2030, decarbonising shipping, ensuring fully traceable seafood, and ending waste from entering our oceans.

It is important to note than IMPA SAVE does not innovate, so to speak, but rather brings existing solutions to light that better our environmental footprint while reducing costs. In a nutshell, we share knowledge and sustainable solutions, we partner and collaborate with others, like the UK Chamber of Shipping and BIMCO, and we incentivise others to take action.

How can companies join IMPA SAVE?

IMPA SAVE started with and is still continuing a massive campaign against the use of single-use plastic drinking water bottles onboard the world’s 55,000+ vessels. It is a massive movement that is opened to both purchasers and suppliers who want to have a say and act. The former can act by beginning to produce drinking water onboard—using well-tested and industry-endorsed water filtration systems, many of which are freely available in the IMPA SAVE Directory—and regularly communicating progress to us and the industry. Accountability is paramount and well encouraged, as we are firm believes that if you cannot measure something, you cannot improve it. Suppliers, on the other hand, can act by supplying filtration systems or more sustainable alternatives for emergency stock replenishing, and by talking about this with their customers and trying to steer them away from plastic bottles.

IMPA SAVE now has over 15% of the global fleet engaged in the movement and tens of suppliers, all working in tandem to ditch plastic bottles. We are growing every day and welcome new pledgers all the time, so please join us if this is something of interest to your company.

What are the benefits of joining IMPA SAVE?

It is fairly simple, really. When it comes to removing plastic bottles from onboard vessels, it is not just a matter of kicking plastic and vastly improving ESG performance, but it can also act as a strategy for carbon reduction. It is no secret that the big emitter is fuel, but IMPA SAVE also plays a small part of the emission picture. Company ReFlow did a Life Cycle Assessment recently on packaged water versus producing water onboard using a filtration system. It was found that the total emission of the water filtration unit equals the use of 354 half-litre PET bottles. Now, thinking that a ship consumes 12,000+ litres onboard… Not such a small impact anymore, right?!

We are also searching all the time for new work streams, with exchanging detergents and chemicals with alternative onboard-made solutions and recycling of ropes deemed as waste being the next in the pipeline. Being part of IMPA SAVE opens up a pathway for companies with green initiatives paired with readily accessible solutions. With no cost in joining, the question should not be “why join?”, rather “why not join?”.

IMPA SAVE is an IMPA initiative
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