Sustainability at Samskip

Message from our Head of Sustainable Development

What a transformational year 2021 has been for Samskip!

Sustainability has taken centre stage in our group strategy, gaining significant attention from our leadership and resulting in a wave on sustainable development, with numerous projects taking off with great success.

Take for instance our alternative-fuel initiatives, which have already saved thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2-e). With the expansion of our biofuel program and introduction of new and innovative vessels, I am confident that they will continue to do so in the future, ultimately forming the lion’s share of GHG savings needed to achieve our vision of making green logistics easy.

I see a bright and sustainable future ahead of us – and here at Samskip, we are committed to making that future a reality. That commitment is made clear with our pledge to the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), and our ambitious decarbonization targets.

50% reduction in emissions by 2030
Net-Zero emissions by 2040

Targets, however, are not what yields results; actions are. That is why this year we have moved two of our vessels to run entirely on 100% sustainable marine biofuels, a first in the container shipping industry. This initiative has resulted in reduction in emissions of over 12.500 tons of CO2-e.

Together with the rest of our decarbonization initiatives we have seen a reduction in over 29.300 tons of CO2-e compared to our 2020 baseline year across Scope 1, 2, and 3. That is a fantastic 6.7% decrease absolute emissions in just one year! At the same time, we have also decreased our carbon intensity per tonne-km by 6.7%.

Another highlight is our new ultraprecise carbon footprinting system, which we developed at the turn of the year with guidance from TNO. This is one of our most impactful and fundamental sustainability projects, as it allows us to calculate emissions per order based on real fuel data, opening the door to countless reduction initiatives, a very important and exciting milestone in our journey.

Although we have come a long way, we are still just at the start, and our leadership echoes a clear message throughout our organization: sustainability and decarbonization of our operations is a top priority to all of us. There is a lot of work to do, but with our sustainable ambitions, bold objectives, and dedicated people, we have all the tools in hand to be the industry leader in green logistics. Together we will make green logistics easy!

Ólafur orri ólafsson, head of sustainable development

Our Sustainability Strategy

We have always believed that sustainability is one of the fundamentals of doing business; it is the key to the long-term continuity of our business and society, and we are committed to seizing every opportunity to be more sustainable. We focus our efforts on the areas of Environment, People, Customers, and our Quality. Through aligning and structuring our actions and initiatives along these principles, we aim to demonstrate our commitment to becoming Europe’s most sustainable container transport provider. 

From these key areas, we have developed our sustainability strategy, which is focused on the following high-level objectives to reach our long-term goal of Net-Zero emissions:

1. Decrease the carbon intensity of our activities

The most important step to getting to net-zero emissions is transitioning to renewable and clean fuels. We currently have LNG and biofuel certified vessels and trucks, and we are hard at work developing other innovative shipping solutions that will utilise creative energy-saving technology and renewable alternative fuels. But transitioning a company of our size over to alternative fuels is no easy feat, and from a more holistic perspective, on its own not the most sustainable way to lower our impact on the environment. This is where improving our material and process efficiency comes in as the second piece to decreasing our carbon intensity. 

“Decreasing our carbon footprint by using low-to-zero emission fuels is great, but if we can decrease your energy usage at the same time, that is even better. If the goal is to minimise the negative impact on the planet, we should not only focus on alternative fuels, but also on our overall fuel consumption – fossil or not!”
– Ólafur Orri Ólafsson, Head of Sustainable Development

If we can not only switch over to alternative fuels, but also improve our technology such that we decrease the amount of energy we consume, then ultimately that is the most sustainable route; the one that will fully minimise the negative impact of our business on the environment. One of the ways in which we are tackling this problem here at Samskip, is by using operations research and optimisation to minimise empty milage and fuel consumption through improved routing. We will develop a central optimisation engine along with the ability to test our new vessel ideas digitally through advanced modelling with a digital twin copy of a ship. These technologies will enable us to perfect our planning, minimise emissions, get insight for tactical decisions, and grow our network. 

2. Create and offer low-to-zero emission freight transport services to our customers

As a customer-centric company we are not only looking at improving our own sustainability performance, but also of that of our customers. We must therefore be ready to offer tailored low-to-zero emission freight services to all clients that wish to decrease their Scope 3 emissions. With the launch of our ultraprecise carbon footprinting system we will be able to report all emissions on a per-order basis for this year and onwards. With this we have laid the foundation for the next chapter in our journey to offering tailored low-to-zero emission shipping. This will include the development of a mass-balancing system, which will allow us to optimise the procurement of alternative fuels and maximise the utility and distribution of low-emission services across our network.

3. Build a company culture that promotes and celebrates sustainability

The only way to truly change a business is to change it from within. Our people are driving the company and not the other way around. That is why fostering a sustainable company culture is of such high importance to us. We strive to create a culture where all employees actively add to our transition from the bottom-up. 2021 has marked the beginning of a new approach, as we laid the foundation for a strong company culture of constant improvements. While culture is hard to grasp, we still aim to quantify the results of our many initiatives by proactively collecting feedback though our periodical workforce surveys. Although we are still in the starting blocks, we are already increasing visible leadership with the development of our Better Samskip room, and we are excited to reintroduce social activities – stronger and more frequent than ever – as covid restrictions are lifted.

These fundamental objectives that guide our approach to becoming truly sustainable are supported by setting clear targets and delivering on them. We have set ourselves the ambitious goal of becoming the lowest carbon emitter, per tonne-km of transported cargo, within our direct competition by 2025, and of receiving the EcoVadis Platinum certification by the same year. This would put us in the top 1% of most sustainable companies within our industry, defined by EcoVadis as postal courier and multimodal freight transport activities.

Looking further beyond the horizon, we have also committed to the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The initiative guides companies in setting targets to decrease their emissions to be in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. Not only that, Samskip is a signatory of the Net-Zero standard and has committed to the more ambitious goal of 1.5°C. We are also signatories of the We Mean Business coalition. Although we are still working on setting clear SBTi approved targets for the coming years, we will undoubtedly target halving our emissions by 2030 and reaching Net-Zero emissions by 2040. 

Key Targets

Decrease our annual CO2-e footprint by 10% by 2023
Compared to a 2020 baseline
Decrease our annual CO2-e footprint by 20% by 2025
Compared to a 2020 baseline
Decrease our annual CO2-e footprint by 50% by 2030
Compared to a 2020 baseline
Reach Net-Zero emissions by 2040
Introduce a net-zero-emission vessel into our network by 2025
Introduce an absolute-zero-emission vessel into our network by 2030
Decrease empty milage by 10% by 2025
Get the EcoVadis Gold Medal by 2023
Top 5% of sustainable companies in industry
Get the EcoVadis Platinum Medal by 2025
Top 1% of sustainable companies in industry

Green Logistics – Our Approach to Business

Why is green logistics so important?

Sustainability is at the heart of our philosophy and approach to doing business. It is vital to highlight the importance of pioneering and engaging in our own approach to green logistics. 

As a leading multimodal logistics provider, we consider it our responsibility to go beyond simply getting our client’s cargo swiftly and safely from point A to point B. We also see it as our obligation to address the negative effects of our operations on the environment and society around us.

In our journey to becoming a truly sustainable company, we aim to continuously develop a more sustainable approach towards logistics through our utilisation of multimodal transport and innovative use of less polluting energy sources, driven by ambitious targets set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Through this, every day, we work towards our vision of making green logistics easy.

The Samskip Arnafell finds itself in the most beautiful places, operating between the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

A multimodal approach – easy!

We continue to connect our logistics transport systems in the most efficient way possible. To do this, our multimodal approach to logistics remains a key driver. 

Our multimodal operations aim to fully embrace and utilise green transportation by offering our clients cost efficient, reliable, and environmentally friendly solutions through calculating and presenting optimised routes tailored to their needs.

Our multimodal approach to achieving green transportation also brings about the following benefits for our customer: 

  • Reducing transportation costs
  • Reducing CO2-e emissions
  • Improving energy efficiency
  • Reducing oil dependency
  • Increasing flexibility, frequency, and quality of service offerings
  • Reducing road congestion and road degradation
  • Lessening potential for accidents

To continue achieving all of the benefits that come from embracing multimodal transportation, we work hard to ensure that we combine and utilise the advantages of each mode of transport.

We firmly believe that there does not need to be a trade-off between offering seamless and integrated transport solutions and respecting the environment in which we operate. We demonstrate this belief directly by moving as much cargo off the road as possible. By doing so, we typically eliminate the majority of CO2-e emissions purely by virtue of our multimodal business model – sometimes as much as 80%! 

Customer Spotlight

 At Samskip, we are thrilled to be able to offer our customers a wide range of multimodal solutions, that not only focus on creating a positive impact on the environment, but also prioritise flexibility and customisability without sacrificing service punctuality and quality. 

Our customers are vital stakeholders that push us to continuously learn, innovate and improve, container by container, with each shipment. We value the ability to contribute to a greener logistics and transportation sector and meet the demand for cutting edge innovation. For this reason, we want to share some of the recent work and success that we have achieved with its customers: 

case study

Howdens Joinery Ltd

Howdens is a leading supplier of kitchens, joinery, and hardware products in the UK, with fast growing operations in France and Belgium. The FTSE100 company has proven its commitment to a green future by making its manufacturing carbon neutral in 2021, and recycling the total of its production waste. 

Samskip works as the European logistics partner helping Howdens realise a green supply chain. Particular focus is on the long distance between suppliers in northern Italy and the Howdens distribution centre at Raunds in the UK, a move which, if done by trailer, would generate over a ton of additional emissions per load when compared to a multimodal solution. 

When the truck collects the cargo, nothing special would strike you. However, after only a short drive to the nearby rail terminal in Padova, the container begins its multimodal journey by rail to Melzo. A pre-planned connection sees the container depart on its second train, this time internationally to Rotterdam. There, our colleagues are ready to transfer the container from railhead to quay for loading on one of our vessels to Tilbury, some of which have already been fully converted to run on biofuel. Once in the UK, with customs clearance in place again thanks to Samskip, one of our trucks will take care of the last-mile delivery.

By choosing the right partner with the right network of multimodal solutions and connections, in 2021, Howdens has been able to save an astonishing 59% of projected CO2-e emissions compared to using all-road transport. That's over 1.8 million kilograms of carbon emission saved! Safe. Secure. Sustainable. Multimodality at its best.

case study

Perfetti Van Melle

As the company behind many famous sweets like Mentos, Chupa-Chups, and Fruittella, Perfetti Van Melle is loved by many, young and old. What you probably did not know yet, is that Perfetti Van Melle is taking care of the future generations as well. Perfetti Van Melle and Samskip have bundled their power to move cargo off the road, and onto our inland barge connections to create a greener supply chain. 

Perfetti Van Melle's multimodal journey starts in Weert, where a Samskip truck picks up the goods. After a short drive to the barge terminal in Roermond, the container is shipped on an inland barge to Rotterdam. Once arrived, the container is swiftly moved from the barge terminal to the short sea terminal, from where the vessel to the UK departs. Last-mile delivery is then again done by one of our trucks. The candy arrives in Northampton, well in time for their enthusiastic customers, young and old.

By choosing Samskip, Perfetti Van Melle is able to save over 55% of CO2-e compared to traditional road transport.

Through our multimodal transport solutions, we aim to go beyond giving customers increased choice. We want to also educate and demonstrate that environmentally conscious and sustainable alternatives don’t have to be more expensive or less efficient. At Samskip, we create win-win solutions for our customers, as we keep on winning together

“We continue our partnership with Samskip to build a more sustainable supply chain from the EU for our Kitchen products.  At Howdens, it’s critical we continue to work to reduce our carbon emissions in line with our commitment to our Trade customers and the end user”.
– Simon Wheeler, Director of Supply Planning, Howdens


Having a solid understanding of the most impactful material issues is vital in the formulation of a holistic sustainability strategy. This is why we continue to adapt our perspective on materiality, making sure to revise the topics that matter most on a regular basis. In this analysis, all entities under Samskip BV were considered, and we ensured that every stakeholder was represented. This materiality guide is based on desk research and industry benchmarking. In the future, we plan to conduct a full assessment.

These materiality topics are guided by the level of stakeholder interest and impact on our organisation. The issues highlighted in green are seen as low impact and stakeholder interest, the issues in orange are of medium impact and stakeholder interest and those in red should be considered of high importance. 

Samskip and the Sustainable Development Goals

We are working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Through our policies, activities, and reporting, we contribute to the following goals.

We are currently working towards asset electrification, as well as the use of clean hydrogen, which will help reduce our energy consumption and emissions. 

We constantly strive to foster a healthy and fair working environment for all of our employees.

Innovation is at the core of Samskip. We create and implement cutting edge technology, which not only makes our operations smoother, but also more sustainable.

Through our innovative approach to continued R&D, and the use of vessels that run on renewable and alternative fuels, we aim to significantly reduce our CO2-e emissions.

We work collaboratively with the Aurora Foundation on projects focusing on economic empowerment and opportunity creation in Sierra Leone.

Many of our partnerships are with organisations that help improve our business in a sustainable way.

Our Achievements

To benchmark our sustainability efforts, we have undergone stringent EcoVadis assessments, measuring our labour, ethics, environmental, and procurement efforts. EcoVadis is one of the most trusted sustainability ranking systems in the world. We are proud to be one of the 258 companies within our industry that have taken steps to improve their sustainability performance. We currently have a Silver Medal, which places us in the top 25% of most sustainable companies within our industry. This is a good start, but we aim to do better. Therefore, we have set a goal to achieve a Gold (Top 5%) Medal by the end of 2022 and a Platinum (Top 1%) Medal by 2025. 

Samskip Multimodal is currently working towards their ISO 14001 recertification to continue to fulfil strategic ambitions and reach client expectations.  

In December 2020, Samskip ranked 3rd on the FleetBoard Drivers’ League. Since 2014, Samskip SIA has been running a coaching programme to promote fuel-efficient driving among 200 truck drivers they employ. Due to a built-in Mercedes FleetBoard computer system, we have managed to not only save on CO2-e emissions, but also reduce fuel consumption, avoid unnecessary truck damages, and decrease the number of accidents.

Our Environment