BICEPS Network – Leveraging Demand for Sustainable Shipping

Context of Transport Climate Action

The challenge for the shipping sector is to achieve more sustainable and effective shipping operations. Some good initiatives have been taken by the sector itself with several ocean carriers have reduced significantly their CO2 emissions through new processes and technologies. These important first steps need to be applied to the sector as a whole, leveraging and adopting best practices and using the best available clean technologies on a larger scale. This will require the involvement of all supply chain partners.

In order to boost this change for the shipping sector, five major shippers (the owners of the cargo and commissioners of the transport consignment) have joined forces in the BICEPS network to make shipping more sustainable. In the network, they will use the “Power of demand” as a driving force by developing a common sustainable procurement strategy towards carriers and logistics operators.

In addition, they will engage with the sector to share best practices and put more emphasis on implementing successful clean technologies and innovations.

The network currently consists of five shippers, other shippers are welcome to join in and share their best practices based on a shared ambition to take action.


BICEPSBoosting Initiatives for Collaborative Emission-reduction with the Power of Shippers

AB InBev, AkzoNobel, DSM, FrieslandCampina and Huntsman are developing a common and concurrent approach to sustainability in their procurement of ocean freight and selection of carriers, as well as sharing best practices. All network partners will take an active role in in setting up dialogues between shippers and carriers about improving the sustainability of their shipments

This joint approach for more sustainable shipping will create the momentum for improvements and boost collaboration on sustainability initiatives in the shipping sector. The five partners and network are supported by Pure Birds, a network entrepreneurs consultancy.

The companies of the BICEPS network will implement adaptations to the selection procedures for their shipping operations. This way they will reflect actual carrier performance on sustainability and the durable engagement.

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As part of the network, a CO2 baseline will be defined as the reference for the CO2 reduction targets by the shippers in their shipping operations. This will be supported by a uniform set of indicators for sustainability assessments of suppliers and carriers within the logistics industry. These indicators will be monitored in an open and transparent BICEPS Rating System, using existing industry standards, where possible, reflecting the actual sustainability performance and its development, and the ambitions of ocean carriers towards sustainability.

Furthermore, the network partners will work together with the shipping sector to convince other sector partners to participate in the stimulation and realization of sustainable practices within the whole sector (like incentive schemes by ports, adopting of clean technologies and re-usage or recycling of end-of-life ships).

A partner in the shipping sector, the Port of Rotterdam, actively supports this development and dialogue with the sector from the beginning.


  • Using economies of scale in their procurement practices, shippers can create significant business incentives for ocean carriers to implement sustainable technologies.
  • Boosting the reduction of emissions (especially CO2) by selecting more sustainable transport solutions.
  • Development of a common open and transparent sustainability assessment framework, with the aim to be innovative and cooperative in its development, and building in low administrative costs for using it for both shippers and ocean carriers.

Potential for scaling up

Shippers, as cargo owners and commissioners of the transport used for the consignment, are the ultimate decision makers in the logistics sector. As customers, they can act as important catalysts for environmental innovations and can leverage their buying power to engender change.

Networks such as BICEPS can help in raising awareness among shippers of the possibilities for driving actual change and help logistic operators to implement best practices through their demand (procurement) strategy. Networks such as BICEPS can be widely adopted, but it should be noted that they require a few large shippers to act as leaders as successful drivers change.

Selected references









Global, Mitigation, Freight, Shipping, Partnerhsips, Awareness


AB InBev, AkzoNobel, DSM, FrieslandCampina, Huntsman, Pure Birds


Coen Faber:

-DSM, Kim van Neer, Global Category Manager Ocean and Airfreight:
“At DSM everything we do should make a meaningful contribution to a more sustainable world. Therefore also within our procurement of ocean freight we have fully adopted green tender principle, which means we screen all shipping lines based on sustainability and rank them accordingly. Via the BICEPS network we hope we can further leverage this concept to further boost sustainability initiatives in the shipping industry.”

-AB InBev, Gert van den Bossche, Global Director Logistics Sourcing: “This initiative perfectly fits into our Dream to be the Best Beer Company Bringing People Together For A Better World. Our international operations represent a major part of our logistics footprint, and we want to run it in an even more sustainable fashion. By working together with our BICEPS-partners, we set another important step towards secure and greener logistics.”

-Huntsman, Johan Wittekoek, Purchasing Manager Transport and Warehousing: “Shipping is a critical part of our global business. Without it we cannot serve our stakeholders’ interests in receiving raw materials and delivering high quality products to our customers. We at Huntsman manage our operations to protect the environment from any possible impacts and are pleased to collaborate with service providers and industry partners to reduce the undesired impacts of marine logistics."

-AkzoNobel, Eric Majoor, Sourcing Manager Logistics EMEA: “Shipping is one of the key focus areas of our global strategy of radical resource efficiency, which we call Planet Possible. We’re working with customers and suppliers all over the world in order to reduce our impact across the whole value chain, while also helping our customers to make a positive influence on society. This partnership therefore represents a valuable step towards improving the sustainability profile of a hugely significant sector within the whole sphere of global logistics.”

-FrieslandCampina, Walter Vermeer, Category Procurement Manager Logistics: “FrieslandCampina is consciously working on impact reduction in every step in our grass-to-glass supply chain to enable realization of climate neutral growth. Our participation in the BICEPS-network is our means to also adding greener ocean shipping into our scope.”

-Pure Birds, Coen Faber, Partner: “Creating demand by collaboration of shippers is a powerful mechanism to speed up sustainable development and innovations in supply chains. With the BICEPS network we aim to create a breakthrough in sustainable shipping.”