It is undeniably true that logistics have environmental effects. Just think of the heavy fuel oil of the ships, the kerosene of aircrafts and the diesel in the trucks on the road. This put together ensures an increase in CO2 emissions, and therefore means a direct burden on the environment. It is also true that a lot is already being done in the world of transport to reduce this 'environmental footprint'. For example, by making trucks cleaner and making greater use of shore power instead of ship generators.
But sometimes environmentally friendly solutions are just up for grabs, and yet they are insufficiently applied. A good example of this is the gas treatment of containers. Currently a widely used method to prevent the spread of insects and viruses via containers - very viable when looking at the corona crisis.
Euro Forwarding has, however, concluded in recent years that in at least 70% of all cases, gas application in containers is completely unnecessary. In fact, if the so-called ISPM 15 guideline were to be followed worldwide - using HT wood heated for 30 minutes at a temperature of at least 56 degrees Celsius for pallets and crates - then the majority of gas would be superfluous.
With not only environmental consequences. Because specialists are not hired for unloading gassed containers for nothing. Gas may be effective in combating traveling insects and viruses, but in many cases it is also (very) dangerous to people. Thus, structurally changing this practice would be a tremendous benefit to the working conditions of people who have to deal with the containers. Both on the loading and the unloading side.
But why doesn't it happen then? It has everything to do with the usual processes at the places where the containers are loaded. Mostly in the Far East, but also in other places in the world. There the standard process is: ‘gassing’ in all cases after loading. And the reason for this is as simple as it is decisive: the people who load these containers are often low or illiterate. That is why you see colored sticks or pieces of plastic in many containers. These are intended to let the loaders know where in the container which goods should be. Written instructions do not work, so a written instruction about whether or not to "gass" a container is ineffective. Although a special plastic color for ‘gassing’ might make a difference.
But the latter is putting the horse behind the wagon. It is much more effective to agree internationally that only HT wood will be used for pallets and packing. Then in most cases you no longer have to use gas. And a double stroke is being realized: a reduction of the environmental footprint, and a significant improvement in the working conditions of the people involved.
In addition: in combination with the ‘gassing’ of containers, untreated wood is often used as pallet material. While environmental legislation in Europe and the United States requires that this wood may not be reused by the recipient of the container, but should be treated as waste. Making the logistical process a lot more expensive.
So, there is every reason to invest internationally in the use of HT wood. And is it isn’t that difficult to apply this in the countries where containers are now 'gassed' automatically! Because one method used is simply replaced by another. And creating HT wood is not difficult. Furthermore - if you include all the elements – using HT wood does not make logistics fundamentally more expensive than using gas.
So, there is every reason to pick this 'low-hanging fruit' in the environmental field. Starting with the shippers, by stating that only containers in which HT wood is used are acceptable. That will get the ball rolling. And start to ban the gas over time.