Valuable Solution for Abandoned Cargo in Port of Rotterdam

Context of Transport Climate Action

Abandoned cargo is more of an issue than people think! More than 700.000 loaded containers are abandoned in the US alone. Sometimes hundreds of container remain in individual harbour terminals and they may be packed with anything from rotting banana’s, unpaid for computer hard discs or forgotten t-shirts and they all incur disputes and added costs for shippers, their owners and terminal operators. At the same time there is a value to the cargo that could be reused but unfortunately to avoid further disputes it is often destroyed.

Broekman Logistics together with Van Scherpenzeel and the Dutch customs found a cheaper and more environmental friendly solution then the usual costly one-way trip to the incinerator.

The ambition of Broekman is to unburden shipping companies, the Port of Rotterdam and its terminals of its abandoned containers by providing an efficient process with a smaller ecological footprint. The process removes the containers from its location and recycles the confidentially destroyed content of the containers.


The collaboration between Broekman Logistics and Van Scherpenzeel brings together the best both companies have to offer in logistics and sustainability. They are able to offer a fully closed chain for goods in abandoned containers that have to be destroyed and ensure that these goods will not reach the market through ‘a back door’. Cargo is always destroyed with full security and confidentially in mind. The final product is completely unrecognisable, but indeed valuable. Recycled raw materials find their way to a multitude of industries across Europe. In a way due to this process – destroying is creating.


When a container terminal operator needs to get rid of its abandoned containers, the following steps can be followed:

  • The shipping company obtains a declaration of renouncement of ownership from the consignee (to whom the shipment is consigned)
  • The shipping company reports the container to Broekman Logistics, describing the content as accurately as possible;
  • Within 24 hours, Broekman responds with an offer including an indication of the costs after the cargo has been processed into reusable raw materials;
  • Following the approval, Broekman Logistics will arrange the entire logistics process. Separate agreements are in place with Customs for the secure transport of the problem container from the terminal to the processing facilities of Van Scherpenzeel. Van Scherpenzeel is an industry leader in creating value from waste;
  • Van Scherpenzeel unloads the container; in many cases, the empty container is returned to the pick-up location the very same day;
  • The contents of the container are confidentially destroyed, with recovery of raw materials as much as possible;
  • A certificate of destruction is dispatched and video of the destruction made available as proof of destruction
  • Lastly, the shipping company will receive a final invoice with a detailed breakdown of the recycled raw materials and ‘the yield’ from anything that could be legally salvaged from the container contents.

This new total logistics solution can save the operator up to € 100 per ton or more, depending on the content of the container in comparison with “incinerator logistics” and at the same time supplying valuable re-usable material. Please find some examples below



Since the collaboration has been started recently not much can be stated about the results as yet. However the potential on a world-wide scale is impressive. Only in Rotterdam hundreds of tons of abandoned cargo per year can be recycled, and it is estimated that this can be multiplied several times across the world.

The CO2 benefits are to be found in the whole life cycle of production, resource use and avoiding waste. By introducing this process in one port, the gains may be small but scaling this up globally can help deliver significant reductions and created green jobs in recycling and sustainability.

Potential for scaling up

What Broekman is doing in the Port of Rotterdam can also be implemented in other ports if a partner like Van Scherpenzeel is available. It is essential to guarantee that cargo is always destroyed with full security and confidentiality. In addition this knowledge can be transferred and jobs created via this process.

Selected references




Europe, Netherlands






Europe, Mitigation, Freight, Shipping, Technology


Broekman Logistics


Jamie Verzijden, T +31 10-487 32 96 email:

Customer quote: “We liked the pricing of the service as well as the way the work was done by Broekman.”