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BIG barges its way to CO2 cuts

Flooring giant Beaulieu International Group has had a major cut to its container transport’s CO2 emissions, by switching to using Flemish waterways rather than road.

Last year saw emissions cut by 36% as it moved more container deliveries to barge rather than road. The group’s container shipments are sent globally via the port of Antwerp, a 56mile drive away. Now 60% of its containers are shipped via the River Terminal Wielsbeke (pictured), a few minutes drive from its main manufacturing facility.

River Terminal Wielsbeke is handily located for many flooring producers in the region, including Unilin which is within yards of the facility.

By changing to water transport, journey times have become more reliable as traffic congestion doesn’t have to be factored in; there are fewer trucks on the roads reducing traffic for other road users; and the company’s CO2 emissions have fallen. In 2017 the company shipped 3,000 containers via combined road and barge transport, reducing CO2 emissions by 300tonnes, compared with pure road transport.

‘BIG is committed to providing efficient and sustainable transport solutions. That’s why barge transport from RTW to the Port of Antwerp is so important for BIG, and will continue to be so in the coming years. In fact, our target is to increase barge use by 10% this year and barge capacity is planned to increase from 60 to 90 TEU in the coming years,’ said Isabelle Vandamme, BIG group supply chain and procurement director.

Combined road and barge transport is calculated to have a CO2 emission of 34g per tonne/km compared with 62g for road only. BIG accounted for more than a third of RTW’s volumes last year.