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May 18, 2017

OOCL: Cracking the supply-chain puzzle

Shipping company is first Hong Kong firm in sector to be included in the FTSE4Good Global Index

International container and shipping firm Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) is one of the few logistics businesses that can claim to have achieved a world-class sustainable supply chain – and to have communicated this successfully to stakeholders.

‘More and more of our business partners have become increasingly aware of the effects of the global supply chain on the environment,’ says Stephen Ng, director of trades. ‘So ESG reporting has become very important because it demonstrates our commitment to transparency and integrity in our ESG initiatives that stakeholders would look for when deciding on a trusted business partner to work with, or a valued company in which to invest.’

The business published its first sustainability report five years ago, back in 2012. ‘This was an important milestone in our sustainable development agenda,’ recalls Ng. ‘And it demonstrates our long-term commitment to corporate sustainability, transparency and accountability.’

In 2012 a milestone was reached when the business was formally certified for the accuracy and transparency of its environmental data disclosures. ‘This reflects our commitment to a high standard of data integrity and information management,’ Ng adds. 

The highly respected American Bureau of Shipping Consulting conducted the audit that resulted in the above certification. It uses the internationally recognized and accepted Clean Cargo Working Group (CCWG) verification standard to check for a vessel’s carbon dioxide and sulfur oxides emissions. Since 2014 OOCL has published information that reports against dual environmental reporting standards, those of the CCWG and for ISO 14064-1 verification. These all certify the transparency, accuracy, completeness, consistency and relevance of OOCL’s data disclosure with regard to vessel emissions.

Since 2016 OOCL has further developed external verification of its greenhouse gas reporting by extending the scope of the information it publishes beyond its Hong Kong operations to include its Long Beach Container Terminal in the US and Kaohsiung Container Terminal in Taiwan.

The communication component of OOCL’s ESG strategy is vital to its success, but it must also be backed up by real initiatives. To this end, the company took delivery of its first mega-class vessel in 2013. Ng notes that the ship exceeds internationally recognized standards by achieving a much-improved Energy Efficiency Design Index level from the baseline that is required by the International Maritime Organization by the year 2025.

Investing in assets such as these is critical for businesses such as OOCL to be able to demonstrate their environmental actions, and policies go far beyond mere window dressing. Moreover, these actions have borne fruit for the company’s investor relations program: in 2015 the company became the first Hong Kong-based enterprise in the international transportation and logistics industry to be included in the FTSE4Good Global Index.

Commenting on OOCL’s future sustainability focus, Ng says the business is currently revamping its sustainability reporting and KPI framework in order to meet the HKEx’s reporting requirements. It is also extending its greenhouse gas reporting on staff business travel emissions.  ‘Looking further ahead, we are monitoring and considering how we may align our initiatives to participate in the UN Sustainability Development Goals to enhance our ESG profile and gain recognition as an industry leader on sustainability initiatives,’ says Ng.

This article appeared in the summer 2017 issue of IR Magazine