Air freight vs sea freight carbon footprint

The question of which is more extensive in air freight vs sea freight carbon footprint is crucial for many people. It is for sure that both methods leave a significant carbon footprint, which causes environmental issues. However, it is essential to know which of them is the worst. It isn’t easy to estimate the impact that shipping and transporting have on the environment without exact numbers. We can calculate global greenhouse gas emissions while businesses and importers monitor their carbon footprint more. If you want to cooperate with an environmentally responsible company, you should rely on professional movers and packers Kuwait, which seriously controls the impact of their shipping leave.

What is a carbon footprint?

Carbon footprint is the mark you leave every time your activity goes out of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Although the most significant footprint is left mainly through organizations and the community, you can also leave it as an individual. The amount of gas that you leave is the footprint that you have.

Air freight
Air freight vs sea freight carbon footprint battle lasts very long

How much CO2 does one cargo ship produce?

According to science, one cargo ship produces 16.14 grams of CO2 per metric ton of goods shipped per kilometer. At an average of 140 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually come bulk carriers that emit 440 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. It means that you, as an individual, participate in these numbers when shipping your goods. Professional air freight companies in Kuwait do whatever it takes to reduce their carbon footprint.

How to reduce carbon footprint?

Many people consider it worthless to do anything about environmental protection as an individual. Therefore, it is a wrong approach, and many technical and operational methods exist to reduce carbon footprints. Those include propulsion efficiency devices, weather routing, slow streaming, and contra-rotating propels. Even professional warehousing companies in Kuwait pay attention to heating and climate, turning them to greener options. Shipping emissions in 2015 were about 13% of the transport sector’s European Union greenhouse gas emissions.

Which strategies do countries use?

EU developed many essential strategies like reporting, monitoring, and verifying carbon dioxide emissions from bulk ships using EU ports. They set out gas emissions targets for all ships and set up more short-term and long-term measures. Although it is only the first step in this process, it could significantly resolve the problem of gas emissions when shipping to Saudi Arabia and transporting goods.

It is crucial to understand differences between those two shipping methods

Air freight vs sea freight carbon footprint

Regarding air freight vs sea freight carbon footprint, the most important thing is to consider the impact that shipping leaves. You need to estimate the effect each shipping method has on the environment. In this case, it is difficult to say which of those two is more dangerous for the planet. It is for sure that experts will estimate the impact of both so you can know how to organize your shipping to Qatar.

How to estimate air cargo’s environmental impact?

As civil aviation is a growing global business, it is liable for any adverse external effects that are unfriendly to the environment. Air transport includes air pollution, maybe more than any other business. Most cause greenhouse gasses, soil pollution, incidental water, and waste generation. They have high amounts of dangerous waste, especially on a long destination like shipping from Kuwait to Dubai.

The process will last much longer than we expect

EU Emission Trading System claims that all European flights must report, monitor, and verify their emissions. The airline must have a tradable allowance to cover a certain level of emissions from its activities annually. Shipping companies in Kuwait know air cargo leaves much more carbon footprint than sea freight. In that case, they need to takeoff noise, dump fuel and venting, low emission of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide in the airport area, and many other steps.

Is air cargo not that bad?

As experts measured, in 2021, air transport emitted 895 tons of emissions, only 2% of the 42 billion tons of greenhouse gasses generated from human activities annually. Also, it contains only half of the 5% of increasing cargo gas emissions annually, which is extremely low. Sea freight companies in Kuwait grow primarily due to massive investment in coordinated action and new technology. However, carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas emitted by an airplane; airplanes emit average atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen.

Aircraft creates contrails

Is air freight pollution dangerous?

Along with carbon dioxide, there are many other causes of pollution. Aircraft create contrails that create a new cooling effect. They form cirrus clouds under some weather conditions and impact climate change positively. Regarding that, in the air freight vs sea freight carbon footprint battle, air freight protects the environment and leaves a lower carbon footprint impact.

Sea freight impact is significant

When considering the air freight vs sea freight carbon footprint dilemma, you should assume that sea freight is significantly worse. There is proof that sea freight has a much more significant impact on the environment, which we should consider when resolving this dilemma.

Sea freight has a significant impact

Sea freight has been environmentally friendly, avoiding stringent environmental regulations on transport for many years. It has rapidly changed during the 21st century, which affected pollution. The only way companies can do this is to avoid unnecessary trips, decrease cruising speed, reduce fuel consumption, and reduce pollution. Finally, they can increase the size of cargo batches.

How sea freight becomes an integral part of global transportation

Ocean liners release their wastes directly over or into the ocean. It contributes to greenhouse emissions directly to the acidification of the sea. Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and carbon dioxide cause some greenhouse emissions. Those gases are formed in the combustion engines of the ship and make hazardous to the environment when released. By understanding some processes, you will know which of those shipping methods cause the most significant pollution is essential.

Which processes cause pollution?

You should understand those processes to decide which is more extensive in the air freight vs sea freight carbon footprint game. Nitrogen oxides acidify the soil, while ozone damages the root and leaves of crops, which lead to lower crop yields. Interaction with other pollutants creates ozone. Hydrocarbons accumulate in the crops, soil, and food and pose a significant health risk. Also, ship risk spreading alien organisms to vulnerable ecosystems. Natural resources and energy used are considered in that case.

Things are not always simple, so more fuel does not mean more pollution always

Air transport threatens the environment in three ways

Although both air and sea freight carbon footprints are significant, there are some differences between them. Air freight transport affects the environment in three ways.

  • Airplane flight on a tarmac runway taking off at sunset
  • Emissions during flights contribute to global warming.
  • During takeoff and landing contributes to global warming and conventional air pollution

When considering the air freight vs sea freight carbon footprint battle, you should remember noise pollution, congestion, and other land-use matters pose risks to airports.

How to choose between air freight vs sea freight carbon footprint?

Even if you know all problems when transporting and how much pollution it causes, you must ship anyway. So, the key is to choose the lesser evil. You will consider the speed and cost at that moment, but the carbon footprint is also significantly significant. In most of the calculations, the verdict favors air freight. Long-haul flights emit 47 times more greenhouse gasses than sea freight per ton a mile. Air freight generates 500 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer.

The final verdict is still cloudy

If we look at the previous numbers, we can say that air freight is worse for the environment, but it is not that simple. Sea freight releases toxic greenhouse gasses directly over or into the ocean. Toxic waste and gasses cause acidification, especially if we consider sensitive loads like pharmaceuticals, speed matter, and reliability. All makes it less likely to part ways with your cargo. Losing those products means the environmental cost of acquiring one is significantly greater than any greenhouse gas emission savings between air and ocean. The most significant factor, in this case, is technology and vessel age, when older ships emit roughly five times more emissions than newer ones.

Larger vehicles carry more weight but bring more pollution

What causes sea pollution?

Most liners use bunker oil, where Sulfur’s lowest grade fuel is exceedingly high. Older liners cannot filter or block emissions, including nitrogen oxide, particulates, and Sulfur. International Maritime Organization has put measures to reduce carbon emissions by at least 70% by 2050 and at least 40% by 2030. In 2020 IMO effected a rule that placed limits on the amount of Sulfur each ship’s fuel should have. The most significant help comes from technology, which will help include investing in hydrogen fuel cells.

What is most suitable between air freight and sea freight?

If you are wondering what is more suitable and has a more negligible environmental effect, you should look at the numbers. Air freight leaves the most significant carbon footprint for large items compared to ocean freight. It emits 500 grams of carbon dioxide/metric tons of cargo per kilometer of transportation. Sea freight emits only between 10 and 40 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer.

Ship with containers
Companies look for more efficient and greener solutions for shipping

Sea freight has advantages

Bearing all in mind, the carbon footprint of airplanes is 20 to 30 times more than ships. It means that air freight produces more carbon footprint than sea freight. However, it is possible to reduce the negative environmental impact of shipping products, and one of them is taking advantage of shipping carbon offset programs.

What is the difference between air and sea freight?

When you decide which shipping is better, you should consider many details in mind. Clients and companies usually make simple decisions about speed, price, and vehicle access. If they restrict hazardous goods, valuable items, or heavy cargo, they limit their choices to only one shipping method: shipping by sea. However, people need to decide according to the shipping method’s carbon footprint.

When to choose a ship?

Ships get faster, so sea freight becomes quicker and can compete with air freight. It is possible to choose the express ocean shipping option when organizing shipping. Two weeks pass between taking goods from the factory and arriving at the destination. Thanks to technology, it becomes even more efficient in stock management and faster customs clearance on ships and ports.

Sea freight is cheaper

There are additional costs of sea freight that you should consider, though. You will pay at least 50% more than the standard air freight shipping, which costs 3 to 5 times to ship with air freight. Express sea freight is a good filing middle-ground for air and standard ocean shipping in terms of speed and costs. In that way, we can say that even with the additional expenses, sea freight is much cheaper than air freight.

Calculate the costs of both shipping methods

Which shipping method is better for the client and business?

If we go back to the essential questions for the client, air freight is the most expensive, and sea freight shipping is cost-effective. Air freight is even 13 to 17 times more expensive than ocean freight so it could make a significant difference for big clients. You can take more items on a container ship than on a plane, which also saves costs. Since those products weigh more than a flight allows, sea freight is sometimes more available. For small but heavy products, sea freight gives the most advantages.

What about the land carriage?

Ground freight services transport your products overland using a truck. It presumes less-than-truckload freight shipping and total truckload freight shipping. If your items fill an entire truck, you can use FTL as an ideal land carriage, while LTL freight shipping is perfect for fewer items you have. For people on all continents, the land carriage is the most suitable, so many clients use it. You only need a single customs document and a seamless movement of items across various countries and states. Regarding the carbon footprint of this method, it is significant but the lowest in the air freight vs sea freight carbon footprint battle.