UK ports operator GBA has announced a “neutral balance sheet” for CO2 emissions for all port and terminal activities relating to its customer Volkswagen.  


[Article updated August 20] GBA provides services for VW at the ports of Grimsby, Tyne, Sheerness and Immingham and provides centralised pre-delivery inspection services, road deliveries, and customs processing.

The company established a new set of environmental targets through the board-level Sustainability Forum it set up last year to measure performance and develop strategies with its partners. Now it reports having improved its performance on port-related emissions for VW through a combination of reduction, conversion and compensation initiatives.

This ties in with VW’s aim of reducing carbon emissions from its supply chain by 30% by 2025 (compared to 2015). That is one step toward its ultimate goal of entirely removing CO2 from its supply chain and operations by 2050, part of its zero-emission sustainability strategy – goTOzero. It is working with logistics partners on road, rail and ocean, including GBA, to help achieve that goal.

According to GBA, carbon emissions from vehicle handling are predominately generated from activity internal to the port, including ship discharge and onward movement of the vehicles to the terminals. It also includes energy consumption at the terminals and from pre-produced items, such as paper and waste.

To reduce those emissions GBA’s Sustainability Forum, in conjunction with GBA Technologies, has developed software which identifies the most fuel-efficient route for vehicles during the ship discharge operation, according to Cale Judah, managing director of the GBA Group.

“Together with intelligent placement of the vehicles in the terminal, in accordance with their priority for onward movement to the customer, this in turn reduces the distance travelled for each vehicle and subsequent CO2 emissions for each operation.”

Other reduction initiatives include a full review of GBA’s supplier base to ensure those selected meet GBA’s Sustainability Strategy with grading metrics adopted within GBA’s procurement processes.

GBA’s Sustainability Forum has also identified areas for conversion. They include high mast lighting towers built throughout the terminals, which are currently all being converted to LED to improve the visibility and drive significant reductions in energy consumption.

GBA said it calculates the level of emissions by collating data from all sources outlined above, including such things as utilities and vehicle movements, and converting it into globally recognised metrics. The Sustainability Forum uses the data to closely track and measure consumption levels, factoring in seasonal changes.

“It identifies and implements reduction and conversion initiatives for the ‘quick wins’, and where required, capital investment is then sought from the Board with an informed, statistically evidenced business case for the more challenging and structural initiatives,” said Judah.

Where total reduction or conversion was not possible, GBA said it had committed to carbon off-setting through the purchase of verified carbon units from the Katingan Mentaya project in Indonesia, which utilises carbon revenues to ensure natural forest restoration and protection across 150,000 hectares, through activities aligned to UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“We are extremely proud to have attained this significant goal of CO2 neutrality at our VWG ports and terminals,” said Judah. “As we continue to advance toward our vision of a climate-neutral and sustainable economy, the strength of partnerships like those between GBA and VWG will be fundamental if we are to establish new and meaningful standards in our industry. We know there is much more we can do, and we look forward to the challenge”.

GBA Group manages finished vehicle imports and exports across six UK port locations and handled around 800,000 vehicles through 2020, down by around 29% on the previous year because of the impact of the UK’s first Covid-19 lockdown.

Read more about GBA’s recent port performance in our latest report on finished vehicle handling at the UK’s ports.