Author: Eva Cadilhac

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How to Calculate Emissions in Seafreight With Ease

Even with unrelenting pressure on supply chains worldwide, the focus on sustainability and eco-friendly operations continues to gain momentum. This interest from customers and investors alike has shippers and carriers everywhere wondering how to calculate CO2 emissions and what to do with those calculations once they have them. With the changes COVID shutdowns brought, the increase in e-commerce and global shipping, and the increasing traffic along ocean freight lines, carbon emissions are at an all-time high. The more freight there is to move, the more emissions and pollution there is to worry about, especially when freight value is at risk

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What Does SFC and GLEC Accreditation Mean in Global Trade

With so much attention directed at sustainability and eco-friendly trends within the shipping and transportation industry, more and more people are learning about the Smart Freight Centre. The impact of carbon emissions and transportation monitoring on the industry is undeniable. Environmentally conscious consumers are willing to spend more, adjust their buying trends, and change their personal habits. The focus on embracing  GLEC framework guidelines and policies is instrumental in today’s current market.

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How Are CO2 Emissions Measured Through Real-Time Tracking and Why It Adds Value to Shippers

Carbon emission reduction, CO2 emission formula calculations, and cleaner shipping options are just some of the changes that have come to the freight transportation industry in the wake of ongoing disruptions, culminating in COVID shutdowns and disruptions. Demand for cargo space, capacity issues, rate concerns, and consumer demand continues to put massive pressure on supply chains. In addition, the emphasis on sustainability and ESG initiatives by shareholders and leadership further stresses the ocean freight supply chain.

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How a CO2 Emissions Calculator for Shipping Works & What It Tells You

As CO2 output calculator data and emission levels remain hot-button topics, it also continues to climb up the list of consumer focus points for global trade. Keeping up with fuel use and emissions and rising pressure to implement carbon emissions calculators in transportation services is becoming increasingly common among shippers and forwarders today.

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What Are Scope 1, 2 & 3 Emissions and What Should BCOs and Forwarders Know?

Generations of Americans are familiar with Smokey the Bear’s infamous catch-phrase, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Since 1944, this campaign by the U.S. Forest Service reminded Americans that self awareness is crucial for  preventing wildfires. The sustainability movement has followed suit in bringing awareness to people worldwide of their role in damaging the environment. 

How a Rise in E-Commerce, Online Shopping, and Same/Next-Day Shipping Got Us to Where We Are Now

In 2019, e-commerce arose as a new primary way for consumers to make purchases. Experts suspect that by 2025, the e-commerce industry will expand by $1 trillion. Meanwhile, consumers are increasingly interested in supporting eco-friendly initiatives by purchasing from eco-friendly businesses.

In 2020, Forbes released an article discussing the paradox of consumers’ sustainability priorities, saying “consumers increasingly care more about sustainable business practices, with 42% having browsed or purchased from physical second-hand, thrift or consignment shops, and 47% saying they actively focus on buying fewer, better things. The top three requirements for e-commerce websites are free shipping (58%), free returns (46.75%), and two-day delivery (30.39%).” As BCOs and forwarders continue to work with those in the e-commerce sector, decision-makers need to understand their full impact on the environment (tracking scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions) and how that will play into consumer interest.

Customers Make Decisions Based on Sustainability Practices and Protocols

To properly track the ebb and flow of customer opinion, Sifted surveyed 500 people to learn how much eco-shipping truly matters. 79% of their respondents indicated that they are currently researching eco-friendly practices. Some of their other significant findings include:

  • 57% are willing to pay 10% or more to receive eco-friendly shipping or packaging. 
  • 66% keep sustainability practices in mind when utilizing e-commerce.
  • 81% believe shipping companies should use less packaging.
  • 82% would choose a delay in shipping if it were eco-friendly. 

Despite the historical use of fast, free shipping, it is clear that sustainable shipping has become a priority to customers. Supply chain professionals can follow their customer’s lead by prioritizing the calculation of scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions.

What Are Scope 1, 2, and 3 Emissions?

When businesses track their contribution to greenhouse gases, the data is labeled as either scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions.  These scopes are defined as follows: 

  • Scope 1 – Emissions caused directly by company assets and resources. Within scope 1, GHG emissions fall under the additional categories of stationary, mobile, fugitive, or process emissions. Scope 1 emissions must be reported and include the emissions from building heaters (stationary), vehicles (mobile), air conditioning elements (fugitive), and manufacturing (process). 
  • Scope 2 – Company-owned indirect emissions. Scope 2 covers all of the purchased energy sources for the company’s use and is also mandatory to report. Building electricity, refueling electric cars, and other company usages of electricity, steam, heat, and cooling fall under this category. 
  • Scope 3 – Indirect emissions that are not company-owned. According to the GHG Corporate Protocol, Scope 3 emissions quantification is not mandatory but it is recommended.; however, this 15-faceted category covers most of a company’s environmental impact. Those categories include company-generated waste, items purchased for company operations, transportation and distribution, in-use products, franchises, and end-of-life treatment.   

Final Considerations for BCOs and Forwarders When Looking at Emission Control Measures and Guidelines 

Learning about scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions might cause discomfort for those responsible for transporting freight. There are so many ways that businesses can cause more damage to the environment than good. However, just as Smokey taught American citizens that they could prevent wildfires, BCOs and forwarders can reduce their environmental impact. 

Freight managers can participate in sustainability initiatives such as port and corridor cleanup plans or invest in creative energy solutions such as sail towing kites or shoreside power technology. Forwarders can choose the greenest carriers by evaluating the environmental impact of each option or retrofitting their asset equipment for electricity or natural gas. BCOs with international clients can reduce CO2 emissions from sea freight with logistic tools such as carbon-conscious voyage planning

Get a Handle on Scope 3 Emissions and Keep up With Current Trends and Regulations by Partnering with Searoutes 

Without knowing that something is broken, how can it be fixed? Decision-makers take the next step in following consumer demand for eco-friendly shipping when they invest in thoroughly reporting their scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions. Although scope 3 is not required at this time, that may change as more data reveals the damage that industry has on the environment. To learn more about how to reduce scope 3 GHG emissions from a Smart Freight Centre accredited partner, book a demo with Searoutes today.

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Earth Day 2022: Global Trade Refocuses on Emissions Reductions

After two years of unprecedented times, many individuals and organizations are finding their “new normal.” While some wish for the familiarity of yesteryears, many have moved past that and are embracing the idea of a new normal. Among the many developments of this new normal is the global emphasis on carbon emissions reductions. 

As Vincent Cleric of Time magazine reported, “Increased customer demand for green transport has helped push companies and shipowners to invest in carbon-neutral vessels, and industry expectations are for this to continue in 2022 and accelerate. Companies are waking up to the fact that progress is needed now and new solutions must be implemented on all aspects of the business. This is illustrated by the fact that the vast majority of container lines now stand firmly behind a net-zero target of, at the latest, 2050.” Earth Day 2022 has undoubtedly arrived at the perfect time to continue the conversation on supply chain decarbonization.

What’s the Theme of Earth Day 2022 and Its Meaning?

For 52 years, individuals and partners have joined together to drive positive action toward a cleaner Earth. This American-made holiday has spread across the globe over the years to initiate local levels of care and concern for our planet and major governmental initiatives. EARTHDAY.ORG has coined Earth Day 2022’s theme as “Invest In Our Planet.” Although the term “invest” is known within the industry for its monetary value, time is another invaluable resource to the planet. EARTHDAY.ORG echoed this sentiment stating, “While there is still time to solve the climate crisis, time to choose both a prosperous and sustainable future, and time to restore nature and build a healthy planet for our children and their children, time is short.” 

How Global Trade Partners Are Working to Lower Emissions in 2022

While many might only consider Earth Day 2022 from an individualistic view, the most significant environmental changes come from the biggest sources of CO2 emissions. Although transportation by sea is more efficient than rail, road, or air, ocean carriers still create a large amount of GHG emissions due to the poor quality fuel and sheer quantity of freight moved via sea. 

Some shippers and BCOs are joining the “Invest In Our Planet” movement by researching current data to choose the greenest carriers. Others pursue emissions reductions by investing in technology and partnerships that provide the right data for greener voyage planning. New API technologies have made the calculation of CO2 emissions easier and more accurate than ever before, moving past the previous efficient model that only prioritized the most direct path. 

Earth Day 2022’s decarbonization initiatives are not limited to ocean carriers, but also to freight transportation by air, road and rail. Accurate transportation tracking provides shippers the tools they need to choose emission efficient routes and manage omnimodal logistics that minimize vehicle idling that emit more greenhouse gases.

Prioritize Emissions Reductions Across All Modes With the Searoutes CO2 Calculator

Although Earth Day 2022 is just one day, shippers and BCOs can use the holiday as a mile marker and motivator for their environment sustainability efforts year round. One way to track decarbonization efforts year to year is to utilize the CO2 API by Searoutes. With an accurate calculator that considers vessel size, engine, fuel type, speed and more, freight management parties will receive accurate estimations of past, present and future ocean shipments. By incorporating weather forecasts, the Searoutes CO2 calculator is equipped to serve rain or shine. If you’re interested in investing in your Earth Day 2022 plans, start a conversation with Searoutes to join the movement toward sustainable logistics.

Everything you need to know on the GLEC Framework and the calculation of CO2e emissions

Because a lot of initiatives have been launched using different methodologies, data, and frameworks to compute CO2e emissions, you may not know where to start. 

In this blog post, we focus on the calculation of Scope 3 emissions. The objective is to give you a clear and simple overview on available methodologies and what you have to consider when it comes to CO2e calculation. 

How to find your way through CO2e emission calculation methodologies? 


Good to know: CO2 and CO2e difference. 

CO2e (equivalent) is a unit of measurement designed to compare and aggregate the impact on global warming of all greenhouse gases (GHG) such as nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), perfluorocarbons, etc. It measures the 100-year global warming potential of GHG. It calculates the heat absorbed by any greenhouse gas for 100 years in the atmosphere as a multiple of the heat that would be absorbed by the same mass of CO2. For example, 1g of CH4 will absorb over 100 years 25 times more heat than 1g of CO2. Hence 1g of CH4 in CO2e is equals to 25gCO2e. CO2e allows to take into account all GHG in the same value representing the impact on global warming; that’s why we calculate CO2e and not only CO2.


Smart Freight Centre to get everyone on the same page.

As of today, there are no ISO standards to measure CO2e in logistics and there exists a lot of ways to do it across modes. Main calculations for logistics emissions are:

  • The GHG protocol but it is not tailored to logistics
  • ISO standards 14064-I based on GHG protocol dec 2018

That is why the Smart Freight Center (SFC) was created in 2013. It aims to make the global freight sector more environmentally sustainable and competitive. SFC brings together the logistic community to compute CO2e in a consistent way across modes through their Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) to meet an efficient and zero-emissions global logistics sector 

In 2016, the SFC released the GLEC Framework, in alignment with Greenhouse Gas Protocol, UN-led Global Green Freight Action Plan and CDP reporting

This is a guide for shippers, carriers and logistics service providers on how to measure and report emissions from logistics operations. To date, this is the only globally recognized methodology for harmonized calculation and reporting of the logistics GHG footprint across the multi-modal supply chain.  


Good to know: An ISO norm planned to be launched in 2022. 

The ISO 14083 norm  “Quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions of transport operations” should be applied in 2022 to provide a single way to compute CO2 widely accepted and followed by industry, governments and investors. GLEC framework and other documents established by the standardization community (EN16258, ISO International Workshop Agreement) will be used as the baseline for standard development ISO.


This framework has taken into account methodologies and initiatives developed to measure CO2e across modes. Here below are the carbon accounting methods used to develop the GLEC Framework.

GLEC Framework for Logistics Emissions Methodologies

As you may know, a lot of providers have arisen to compute the carbon footprint of transport, but they differ from each other as they won’t use the same data and calculations. Some of them are SFC accredited in accordance with GLEC, others follow standard methodologies. How do you find your way? Data and calculation models are key when it comes to choosing your solution provider. Here’s how to make sense of it.

Input data types, CO2e emissions backbone

There are many ways of estimating CO2e emissions depending on the information you have and the level of accuracy you need.  This part aims at presenting the main differences between  the type of data and calculation approach used so that you better understand the offer.

Basically, the differences from the different available calculation methods come from the different data used for the calculation. This data can be of different types : 

  • Primary data;
  • Default data;
  • Detailed modeling.

These different types apply to any data you might need, for example :

  • Fuel consumption;
  • Electricity consumption;
  • Distance;
  • Vehicle specific emission factors;
  • Etc…
PRIMARY DATADETAILED MODELINGDEFAULT DATA
Real data from the carrierModels combine shipment data with information on vehicles and fleets in order to model fuel use and emissions.Industry average figures using standard assumptions of vehicle efficiency, load factor and empty running.
Example: Total annual emissions or average emissions per tonne-kmExample : SearoutesExample: SmartWay carrier performance data; Clean Cargo Working Group carrier data
Primary data

In other words, primary data could be called “real data”. Using primary data for CO2e calculation can be the most accurate method but it requires a lot of data that is often not public.

For example, the best method to calculate CO2e emissions is via the fuel consumption, using an emission factor (that converts kg of fuel burnt to kg of CO2e). In order to apply this method, you need the “primary data” : here the fuel consumption of the specific vehicle that carried the shipment from the source to the destination.

For example, suppose you know the vessel consumed 4600t of fuel and transported 15000TEUs. According to the GLEC, for 1g of BFO burnt, 3.41g of CO2e is emitted. Then the emissions of 1 TEU are 4600 * 3.41 / 15000 = 1046kg. 

The primary data can be of any type. For example, if your calculation method is based on the distance, primary data can be the exact distance travelled by your shipment as reported by the carrier instead of an approximation based on the source and destination.

Primary data can also be an aggregate of real data; for example an average value of the fuel consumption of all the vessels of a trade lane of a given carrier for the entire year. In this case, the results of CO2e calculations would be less accurate but still based on real life data.

Advantage : more accurate results if the information reported is complete and granular (depending on the type of data).
Disadvantage : hard to obtain and hard to have consistent data across all the carriers. 

Default data

The name of this data speaks for itself, they are default values that you can use when you don’t have much information on the shipment. 

One of the most well known default data is the GLEC default emission factors. For example on sea, GLEC recommends using the Clean Cargo Working Group emissions factors and on road the Smart Way emissions factors (US specific) and EN 16258 emissions factors. 

For any transport mode, they provide default CO2e emission factors in g/t.km (or g/TEU.km for sea transport). These factors represent the average shipping conditions for this mode and are not specific to your shipment.

For example, suppose you ship one TEU from Shanghai to Antwerp. According to the GLEC default emission factors, the shipment produces 49g of CO2e per km (Asia to-from North Europe trade lane). Using Searoutes route calculator, the distance from Shanghai to Antwerp is approximately 19700km. Hence the CO2e emissions of the shipment will be approximately 965kg CO2e.

Emission factors can be more or less granular but are always aggregate values. For example, you can use a train default emission factor or you can use an electric train default emission factor if you have this information.

Advantage : easy to obtain, easy to use.
Disadvantage : less accurate, cannot be used to implement a reduction strategy.

Detailed modeling

The detailed modeling can be seen as the middle way between primary data and default data. It makes it possible to calculate more accurate CO2e emissions without having access to all the primary data. Of course, among the detailed modelings, different levels of accuracy exist based on the complexity of the model used.

Let us detail a bit with some examples.

Suppose you ship a TEU from Shanghai to Antwerp in a 4000-7000 TEUs vessel. You do not know exactly which vessel your cargo was loaded on but you know its approximate size. Some calculators provide a modelization for vessel types and for some size ranges to be able to calculate CO2e of a type of vessel on a given distance. For our example, you would look for the emission factor of a container ship of around 4000-7000 TEUs and apply it.

Now suppose you know the IMO number of the vessel that carried your shipment. You can model the fuel consumption of this specific vessel and estimate the CO2e emissions of this specific vessel on the given distance. This is what we do at Searoutes.

For example, one TEU from Shanghai to Antwerp would emit 967kg CO2e on IMO 966xxxx vs 930kg CO2e on IMO 972xxxx.

Again, the detailed modeling can be applied to other data like distance. To keep our example of a TEU from Shanghai to Antwerp, detailed modeling can mean estimating the distance travelled using actual services instead of a direct distance. For example, on CMA CGM FAL8, the sequence of ports is the following : Shanghai, Kaohsiung, Yantian, Singapore, Columbo (Sri Lanka), Antwerp which represents around 20,270km (vs 19,700km for the direct route).

Based on the complexity of the models used for each data point, this method is the most granular in case you don’t have access to primary data specific to your shipment.

Advantage : does not need specific data, can be extremely accurate.
Disadvantage : requires sophisticated models.

As a shipper, how can I choose the right CO2e calculator partner?

Before you leave we wanted to share with you some tips to help you choose your CO2e calculation provider.

First, ask yourself: Which data do I wish to use to compute Co2e?

  • Detailed modeling
  • Default values
  • Primary data

Next, below are 4 questions to ask your provider, to evaluate his calculation and data reliability. 

  1. Is your calculation methodology accredited?
  2. Where does your distance data come from?
    • Theoretical distances
    • Direct distances
    • Network distances
  3. Which parameters do you take into account to compute CO2e?
    • Cargo types
    • Vehicle characteristics
    • Fuel types
    • Speed
  4. Can your co2 calculation provider take care of your scope 3 emissions declarations, in compliance with standards methodologies or framework?

Choosing the right partner to help you reduce CO2e emissions becomes a challenge when you don’t have all the ins and outs to make good decisions. But if you are alert to signals that point to solutions that are likely to lack accuracy and reliability, you can choose the right partner to support your CSR strategy. Want to know how Searoutes can help you?

Smart Freight Centre accredits Searoutes CO2 APIs

In 2021, carbon footprint is on everyone’s mind. The Paris Agreement to fight global warming is proof of this. Many industries have joined the cause and are taking part in this common effort. Among them, the logistic industry. As pointed out by Smart Freight Centre, the transport sector represents 23% of global greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions and is the 3rd largest contributor of GHG emissions after industry and buildings. Freight transportation made up for 36% of transport’s emissions in 2015 and is expected to double by 2050 without outside intervention. 

In this context an increasing pressure from regulation and public awareness pushes the industry stakeholders to take actions. It is a challenge today to compute CO2, as historically so many methodologies have been developed in isolation.  Comparing CO2 across different modes of transport can be like comparing apples with oranges. This is the starting point for the Smart Freight Centre, which created the Global Logistics Emissions Council, or GLEC, to make carbon accounting of transport unified across the industry. 

About Smart Freight Centre (SFC)

Smart Freight Centre (SFC)  is  a global non-profit organization dedicated to an efficient and zero emissions freight sector. Their mission is to bring together the global logistics community through the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) to work towards this.

SFC advises companies on how to develop and implement their company-specific Sustainable Logistics Roadmap using the four ‘Smart Freight Leadership’ steps: report, set targets, reduce and collaborate. SFC also advocates for supportive policy and programs and raises awareness to accelerate sector-wide action.

Present in Europe, the Americas and Asia, SFC collaborates with existing initiatives, international institutions, partner organizations and experts worldwide. They are positioned to lead and coordinate global efforts due to their dedicated purpose to reduce freight emissions, their subject matter expertise and their established network.

Searoutes and SFC Accreditation

Searoutes methodology to estimate CO2 emissions is accredited by Smart Freight Centre to provide calculations of greenhouse gas emissions for freight and logistics operations. The methodology is in conformance with the Global Logistics Emissions Council Framework for Logistics Emissions Methodologies (GLEC Framework) © ® 

Our modeling currently supports the following modes, assets, fuel types and regions:

SFC accredited – so what?

We want CO2 emissions estimation to be seamlessly accessible to logistics stakeholders: Carriers, Freight Forwarders 3PL and 4PL and Shippers. We aim to facilitate the implementation of GHG reduction strategies, with granular data, emissions reporting and decision making. 

CO2 emission calculations are available via API. You can integrate our API at many touch points into your systems. Depending on the granularity of the data you provide (vessel imo, aircraft IATA or just port / airport pairs), we return CO2 emissions based on representative averages, or detailed modelling.

Searoutes can be used at different steps of your carbon footprint reduction strategy:

1/ Tender

To compare the services offered by carriers on a from/to pair.

2/ Report

You can share the data from your shipments in batch or directly integrate our API into your systems to create reports, on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. The report structure and elements are accredited to be in alignment with the GLEC Framework.

3/ Analyze

You can use our data to simply explore untapped reduction potentials.

In concrete terms…

As a shipper, Searoutes provides you with automated reports, and analytics to compare emission performance per mode, carrier, service, vehicle. 

As a freight forwarder, Searoutes adapt to your business, structure and use case: tendering, booking, invoicing and/or reporting. 

You are currently working on your CSR strategy and you need a partner to help you find leverages to reduce your carbon footprint ?  



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