ECOPORT - An environmentally friendly Port Community
The growing globalization of the European economy has led to a considerable increase in international trade transport (80% of total transport), both between EU member states and non EU countries. As a result, seaports have converted into major industrial centers often adjoining large urbanized zones, where the needs of the local population exert continual pressure on already vulnerable coastal ecosystems. These factors are exacerbated in the Mediterranean because of the high pollution rates.The ports themselves have become highly complex centers where, alongside traditional loading and offloading operations, new installations carry out goods processing and industrial transformation as well as cargo storage operations. This gives them a new important role in the production and consumer chain and creates new needs to minimize environmental risks in their installations and processes. It also makes port management an increasingly complex task with the need to negotiate between a great variety of actors: port and maritime authorities, customs, Health and Safety Inspectorate, transport and storage companies, shipping lines, etc. All these factors make it increasingly urgent that ports develop detailed environmental management strategies. In this context, the Environmental Management System (EMAS) promoted by the CEE regulation 1836/93, which allows industrial companies to adhere to the community system of environmental management and audit on a voluntary basis, offers one of the most useful tools. The main attraction of the system is that whilst it remains a voluntary code, it provides a systematic, objective and well-documented evaluation of the management function, compatible with other environment management systems and regulated at a European level. As it is based on principles of continuous improvement it facilitates the development of an integrated knowledge management systems at the heart of the port’s operations.
The aim of the ECOPORT project was to develop a methodology which would enable port areas to adopt environmental management systems and meet the new EU requirements for a sustainable and environmentally-friendly European transport policy. This strategy would encompass 3 areas: ECOPORT System, training and dissemination. Following a diagnostic stage, the project would design and implement, on a pilot basis, a system of environmental management and audit adapted to a port context, using as a reference the European System of Environmental Management and Auditing. (CEE 1836/93). This would also entail working on a national and EU level to adjust the community ruling to the port industry and enable its widespread application. The training phase would be developed at the same time and aim to provide specific training materials and courses adapting the EMAS to the port context and to creating a team of experts in the field. The final area would focus on dissemination and publicity at local, regional, national and EU level. This would involve raising awareness of environmental problems in the port industry, publicizing the advantages of implementing EMAS systems in a port context, as well as disseminating and transferring the results of the project, particularly in the Mediterranean Region.
The project developed, and tested out in 7 companies, an environmental management system model adapted to the needs of port areas. These actions were backed up by a wide-ranging information, training and dissemination package which constituted an integrated campaign to promote the introduction of an EMAS system in a major European port. The ECOPORT model of EMAS united two levels of action. Firstly, it created a model structure on an individual basis, in which companies and organisations participated and agreed voluntarily to abide by the model’s rules and monitoring systems. Secondly, it provided an umbrella framework for the development of an overall environment management strategy for the whole port area.
The ECOPORT model structure provides a detailed, step by step, methodology for implementing environmental management systems in a port company, backed by detailed tools and instruments. This follows key stages: firstly a voluntary adherence to the environmental commitment of the port, embodied in the framework structure. This would be followed by an initial diagnosis of the effects of the company’s activities on the environment. Next, the company would develop an environmental plan and draft documentary support (manual, procedures and technical instructions) which would then be tried out on a trial basis before being fully implemented. The circle is completed by the audit and monitoring stage. In the project, this was called assessment and annual monitoring, and aimed to implicate the companies in the process of continuing improvement through suggestions for change rather than censuring the companies management. The final phase is the issuing of an environmental statement by the company. Although this was made optional in the project, recommendations were offered as a reference for the companies, based on the requirements and recommendations of Regulation 1836/93. The framework structure aimed to provide a joint image for the port area and establish similar environmental standards for often competing companies and encourage them to make use of economies of scale by developing joint approaches. This “Environmental Code of Conduct” involved a declaration of environmental commitment from the port, the drawing up of an environmental plan with a common auditing element, a set of general standards and guides and the development of an environmental management structure.
On the training front, a series of seminars and short training courses, brought over 300 port technicians up to date on the needs, strategies and tools of the ECOPORT EMAS system. High profile dissemination methods were used to raise the key issues and publish results. This included a regular 8 page project news bulletin, brochures and leaflets and the publication of key EMAS tools: A guide on environmental considerations for port companies and organisations and a manual for implanting Eco-management and audit in port Installations. As part of a targeted dissemination approach aimed at port authorities and companies on a national and European level, the ECOPORT conference in Valencia 2000 succeeded in bringing together over 100 delegates from a large number of European Ports. Following the conference, a further proposal has been developed with other European ports to transfer the ECOPORT system.
Fundacion Instituto Portuario de Estudios y Cooperacion (IPEC) provided technical assistance
The following companies participated in the pilot EMS project:
- PTROVAL, oil handling and storage company
- Maritima Valenciana, a container handling and storage company.
- SGS Grain Terminal, a grain handling and storage company.
- MOYRESA, vegetable oil extract company.
- URBASER-SERVICESA, cargo handling and storage company.
- VPI Logistica, managers of the future Logistics Activity Area in the Valencia Port.