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"The 12 Days of Christmas" revisited by Green Marine

December 19, 2022

In the festive spirit of the holiday season, Green Marine has revisited the classic "12 Days of Christmas" to share some key highlights of the environmental certification program. 

1 common goal

This year marks the 15th year of Green Marine's North American environmental certification program. Arising from of a common awareness among stakeholders about the importance of minimizing the impact of shipping on the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, Green Marine was founded in 2007 as a voluntary effort by the shipping industry to go beyond regulations. More than 175 ship owners, port authorities, marine terminal operators, and shipyards throughout Canada and the United States are currently participating in the program towards one common goal: the environmental excellence of the maritime industry.

Green Marine aims to guide the maritime industry toward this goal by encouraging maritime companies to adopt concrete,  measurable actions that go beyond regulatory requirements in a process of continual improvement.

2 years for Green Marine Europe

On April 28, 2020, Green Marine and Surfrider Foundation Europe officially launched the Green Marine Europe environmental program for European ship owners.

Having six European ship owners at the time of the program’s creation, its membership has since tripled, with 20 ship owners operating different types of vessels. Among the members of Green Marine Europe are CMA CGM, the world’s third-largest shipping company based in France; MSC Cruises, an Italian global line registered in Switzerland; and Stena Line, the largest ferry operator in northern Europe. The Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners has also joined as an association member.

For the past two years, the European program has received high-level support from France. While hosting the One Ocean Summit in February as part of his six-month European Union presidency, President Macron publicly endorsed Green Marine Europe and strongly encouraged ship owners to integrate the program into their sustainability efforts.

For the 2023-2024 certification, Green Marine Europe aims to have upwards of 30 members by opening the program to European shipyards, which have already shown great interest in participating.

3 overall average

The overall average for the 2021 environmental performance by Green Marine participants is once again at 3.0. This is great news after three consecutive years at 2.9. The slightly higher average is noteworthy, given the substantial development of the environmental certification program in 2021. This slim but solid overall improvement was achieved in the context of a larger participating membership (with new additions typically needing some time to familiarize themselves with all the program’s criteria), a broader scope of addressed issues, and stricter requirements for specific performance indicators to keep them sufficiently demanding at each of the incremental levels beyond the required Level 1 monitoring of regulations.

4 advisory committees

Regional participation has been at the heart of the Green Marine program since its inception. Four advisory committees are now in place, representing the St. Lawrence, Great Lakes, North Atlantic, and West Coast regions, respectively. These committees make it possible to highlight environmental issues of particular concern at the regional level and explore various possible solutions through collaboration. Before adopting a change to the program, Green Marine calls upon each committee to provide its point of view based on its regional realities so that a new program criterion takes all participants into consideration.

Green Marine’s uniqueness stems from the composition of its advisory committees that bring together representatives from the industry, governments, research institutions, and environmental organizations. Gathered twice a year by one of Green Marine’s program managers, these representatives contribute to various aspects of the program’s development and overall direction. These advisory committees are a big part of Green Marine’s collaborative success!

5 levels

The progress of the participants is evaluated yearly on a 1-to-5 scale using performance indicators reviewed annually in the spirit of continual improvement at the heart of the environmental program. Level 1 on the scale is monitoring regulations, and Level 5 is excellence and leadership.

As of the very first year in the program, a participant must achieve Level 2 for at least one of the performance indicators. Thereafter, the participant must demonstrate a yearly improvement of one level for at least one performance indicator until Level 2 is achieved for all the applicable performance indicators.

6 times as many partners

The partner membership category was created at the program's outset to provide participants with innovative solutions to support them in their quest to reduce their environmental footprint. At the program's start, Green Marine had 19 partners in its membership, while it now has 6.5 times that number, with a total of 124.

These suppliers of products, equipment, technologies, and/or services enable the program's participants to improve their environmental performance. The Partner Directory is an interactive tool for participants to find unique solutions to specific environmental issues by doing a keyword search.

7 employees

The Green Marine team has seven employees, including a president, four program managers, and two individuals in communications. These hires have been gradual since the program's inception.

Following its 2007 launch, Green Marine quickly had a sufficient membership base to merit hiring an executive director and, David Bolduc, who had enthusiastically been involved from the outset, was regarded as the logical choice. He is now Green Marine's President.

As a commitment to its current and future U.S. participants, Green Marine opened its second regional office in Seattle, Washington, in the fall of 2014, where Senior Program Manager Eleanor Kirtley (also hired in 2014) and Program Manager Brittney Blokker (2021) are currently located. The expanding membership base on the East Coast led to the hiring of Thomas Grégoire (2016) as the region's Program Manager, which resulted in the opening of a third office in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Program Manager for the St. Lawrence region, Véronique Trudeau (2019), as well as the communications team consisting of Manon Lanthier (2011) and Julie Turmel (2020), work in the Quebec City office.

8 additional performance indicators

The first certification year in 2008 saw 45 participants self-evaluate their environmental performance using six indicators that addressed key issues of interest, including aquatic invasive species, air emissions (SOx and NOx), greenhouse gases, cargo residues, oily water, and community impacts (noise, dust, odour, light, and other nuisances from port activities).

The number of performance indicators currently stands at 14, which is eight more than at the program's start. This increase can be explained by the continual development of the program to maintain the criteria beyond regulations, as well as by the adaptation of new priority issues.  In addition to the initial six indicators listed above, we’ve since introduced underwater noise, dry bulk handling and storage, waste management, environmental leadership, spill prevention and stormwater management, ship recycling, and community relations. The 2007 pollutant air emissions (SOx and NOx) indicator is now split into two indicators to address each pollutant separately, and the scope has been expanded to include particulate matter.

9 seats on the Board

Green Marine is managed by the Green Marine Management Corporation, a non-profit organization, which is overseen by a board of directors composed of the senior executives  of companies participating in the environmental certification program who are elected at the Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The board of directors provides a way for participants to actively engage in the program’s development and implementation to determine Green Marine’s strategic orientations. It comprises nine members, including the leaders of American and Canadian companies, thus highlighting the partnership’s binational composition and diverse membership that encompasses various aspects of the industry.

There is currently one vacant seat which will be filled at the next AGM. The Board of Directors has achieved gender parity, with four of the eight directors being women.

10 GreenTech destinations

Since the program's founding, Green Marine has held its annual GreenTech environmental conference, which brings together program members, the maritime industry and decision-makers to discuss environmental issues. While the 16th edition of GreenTech will be held in Seattle, WA, from June 12 to 14, 2023, eight other destinations have hosted previous editions: Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Quebec City, Vancouver, Saint John, Seattle, Fort Lauderdale, and Cleveland. In 2020 and 2021, Green Marine held virtual events due to Covid-19 restrictions. When considering the virtual space as its own location, GreenTech was held in a total of 10 destinations.

GreenTech is the not-to-be-missed event of the year for anyone interested in the maritime industry, green technologies, and innovation in sustainable maritime transportation. Each year, Green Marine strives to alternate locations between Canada and the United States, moving between the East and West regions.

11% increase in the number of reports submitted

For the latest evaluation year, the 11 new participants reporting on their environmental performance for the first time in 2021 contributed to an annual average increase of 11% in the number of submitted reports over the past 14 years of Green Marine’s self-evaluation process.

Each participant completes their self-evaluation report annually, but some participants, that certify more than one terminal, for example, must complete multiple reports. While the number of reporting participants increased in 2021, the net number of summary report forms decreased from 170 to 164. The slight reduction stems from some terminal operators choosing to consolidate the performance reporting for their terminals rather than filing an assessment for each operation and/or location. When a participant decides to aggregate operations or locations in a summary report form, the result is always based on the lowest level achieved within the reported cluster.

12 months

This is the period between each participant's self-evaluation to achieve Green Marine certification. Each year, participants must assess their environmental performance for each applicable performance indicator on a scale of 1 to 5, using the self-evaluation guide developed by Green Marine. Each participant must submit the self-evaluation summary report, signed by the company’s senior executive, to Green Marine no later than March 15th of each year.

In addition to the annual self-evaluation requirement, participants must also have their results independently verified every two years by one of Green Marine's third-party accredited verifiers. Finally, in order to receive certification, participants must demonstrate a certain level of continual improvement and, in the spirit of transparency, must publish their results each year.