Retail Giants Amazon, IKEA, and More Unveil Zero-Emission Shipping Initiative

Editorial TeamEditorial Team
September 21st, 2023
9:07 AM

ZEMBA, a non-profit with major retail brands like Amazon and IKEA, has launched a tender to secure 600,000 zero-emission fuel-powered containers over three years with over 20 participating members.


The Zero Emission Maritime Buyers Alliance (ZEMBA), a non-profit organization consisting of prominent retail brands, has initiated a Request for Proposals (RfP) aiming to secure 600,000 twenty-foot containers (TEUs) to be transported on ocean vessels powered by zero-emission fuels over a three-year span.

In this inaugural tender, ZEMBA has enlisted over 20 members, including industry giants such as Amazon, Bauhaus, Brooks Running, Chewy, Electrolux Group, Flexport, Green Worldwide Shipping, IKEA, Levi Strauss & Co., lululemon, Meta, Moose Toys, New Balance, Nike, Patagonia, Philips, Schneider Electric, Sport-Thieme, and Tchibo.

The ZEMBA RfP seeks bids for shipping services from individual carriers or consortiums that can deliver a minimum of a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to traditional fossil fuels throughout the entire lifecycle. The choice of fuel will prioritize safety and address land use concerns, particularly those related to biogenic substances.


ZEMBA's Commitment to Carbon Reduction

Through this initiative, ZEMBA aims to support its member companies in reducing nearly 1 million metric tonnes of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to removing 215,000 cars from the road. The delivery of shipping services powered by cleaner fuels is anticipated to commence in 2025.

Adam Baker, Vice President of Global Transportation at Amazon, emphasized the urgency for the maritime shipping sector to invest in clean fuels to achieve climate goals, stating, "Maritime shipping is an essential service for global companies like Amazon."

ZEMBA will consider bids that meet the following criteria: Sufficient capacity to meet the aggregate demand of ZEMBA members, totaling 600,000+ TEUs over a distance of 6,000 nautical miles (approximately 11,000 km) across three years. Access to fuels that offer GHG emission reductions of at least 90% compared to traditional fossil fuels throughout their lifecycle. Transparent reporting of fuel lifecycle emissions to validate emission reduction claims through rigorous in-sector book-and-claim approaches, ensuring credibility while maintaining reliable supply chains essential for the global economy.

As part of the RfP bidding process, ZEMBA requests vessel and fuel assurances from bidders. The selected bidder will also need to provide third-party verification of the emissions reductions claimed by ZEMBA members.



Pioneering Sustainability in Shipping

ZEMBA's RfP aims to stimulate a new marketplace for zero-emission fuels and establish long-term, scalable solutions for the entire shipping industry. Future RfP criteria for lifecycle emissions may be adjusted upward as technology innovations unfold and sustainable fuels, infrastructure, and supply chains are integrated, as indicated by ZEMBA.

The development of ZEMBA's RfP involved collaboration with partners from Lloyd's Register, a provider of classification and compliance services to the maritime and offshore industries, as well as Neoteric Energy and Climate LLC. The global shipping industry is responsible for 3% of global climate emissions, surpassing global air travel in emissions. Despite increased ship size and operational improvements, annual absolute emissions continue to rise, making the industry the world's sixth-largest climate polluter.

Given that approximately 90% of global trade relies on maritime transportation, projections indicate that emissions could increase by up to 50% over 2018 levels if business-as-usual practices persist. Although the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has noted some progress in fuel efficiency, the industry's efforts to reduce emissions have been slower compared to other sectors, largely due to its exclusion from the U.N. Paris Agreement.