- H&M will be the first company to participate in Maersk's pilot of a new carbon neutral biofuel, the carrier announced in a press release.
- The biofuel is made from a blend of used cooking oil and heavy oil and produces 85% fewer emissions than bunker fuel. The biofuel was initially tested earlier this year in a collaboration with the Dutch Sustainability Growth Coalition (DSGC) and Shell.
- Maersk said it will pilot its biofuel with "select" customers but did not specify which ones, aside from H&M. "The goal of such pilot projects is to unlock the potential of sustainable fuels so they become a commercial reality," the carrier said.
Ocean shipping accounts for 2% to 3% of global emissions, according to Maersk, so it's logical shippers would target transportation to reduce emissions in their operations and supply chain.
H&M's goal is to become "climate positive" by 2040, according to COO Helena Helmersson. The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) approved H&M's emissions goals earlier this year, which is considered a major milestone in the sustainability journey. SBTi approves goals that will help keep global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
H&M's approved goals are:
- 40% reduction in scope one and two greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (against a 2017 baseline).
- 59% reduction in scope three emissions by 2030.
Ocean transport falls under scope three.
H&M has made several recent sustainability pushes, including a pledge to source 100% sustainable cotton by next year and plans to phase out cashmere. The brand was among the organizations to launch the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, which set up working groups to help companies reduce emissions and phase out coal. Still, H&M's fast fashion approach has been the center of controversy around clothing and resource waste and poor labor conditions in factories.
Maersk is also perceived as a sustainability leader in its industry. While the entire ocean shipping industry is transitioning to low-sulfur fuel ahead of International Maritime Organization (IMO) 2020 regulations, Maersk has taken its sustainability goals a step further. Last year, the container line pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050.
The biofuel pilot will further Maersk's goals to reach carbon neutrality in 30 years. COO Søren Toft sees the pilot not as "an absolutely final solution" but rather a "transition solution" to reduce carbon emissions and eventually make sustainable fuels commercially viable for widespread usage.