Port of Rotterdam makes the environment a top priority

The Port of Rotterdam.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority will be the first port in the world to reward oceangoing LNG tankers that have a Green Award certificate. The port will give these ships a six-per-cent discount on port fees when they arrive in Rotterdam.

The independent Green Award Foundation presents the Green Award to ships and shipping companies that have made additional investments in a vessel as well as crew training to improve environmental safety and performance. The foundation began last year to certify tankers powered with liquid natural gas.

Rotterdam is among 55 ports committed to reducing greenhouse gases. Under their World Port Climate Initiative (WPCI), these ports have sought ways to encourage ships to lower emissions.

The WPCI developed an Environmental Ship Index to gauge a ship’s emitted levels of nitrogen oxide, sulphur oxide and carbon dioxide. Rotterdam is among 17 ports and other service providers that grant about a five-per-cent discount on dues for vessels whose emissions are below the internationally allowable limits.

SUbstainable expansion

Hans Smits, CEO of the Port of
Rotterdam Authority.

In late 2008, the port began a land reclamation project in the North Sea. Maasvlakte 2 will expand the port by 20 per cent, adding 2,000 hectares and moving the coastline 3.5 kilometres farther into the sea.

Although construction received initial approval in 2004, the project was stopped in January 2005 by the Dutch Council of State. The council wanted more research done regarding various aspects – especially the environmental impacts. The additional studies took several months.

The project is being carried out by a separate entity within the Port of Rotterdam Authority. A sustainable development advisory group oversaw plans to ensure Maasvlakte 2 would be constructed, furnished and ultimately operated in a sustainable way.

“Maasvlakte 2 symbolizes the vitality of Dutch logistics, industry and hydraulic engineering,” says Hans Smits, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

minimized Impacts

A streamlined, rounded-off shape was designed to minimize the impact on the North Sea and natural habitat. The design also required less sand to fill the area. The sand was taken from a nearby location to keep the environmental impacts of transporting it to a minimum.

The new 3.5-kilometre northern seawall is now almost complete along a new navigational channel. Everything has been done to make the expansion as environmentally friendly as possible. For example, 20,000 concrete blocks from the existing Maasvlakte seawall built in the 1960s have been reused.

Marram grass traps sand.

On the south side, a soft seawall extending 7.5 kilometres consists of a wide sandy beach with a line of 14-metre dunes that look as if they came naturally into being. Marram grass has been planted to cut down on sand being sprayed by occasional high winds. The beach was also widened by 100 metres so residents can enjoy the area during high tide.

Construction of the new port area is on schedule with the first container terminals set to become operational in 2014. The additional space will accommodate the port’s expanding commerce over the next 20 to 25 years.

APM Terminals Maasvlakte 2 will use a real-time execution system called SPARCS N4 to handle up to 2.7 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) containers annually in a fully automated, environmentally sustainable way.

The facility will also use innovative Lift Automated Guided Vehicles (Lift AGVs) that operate with reduced emissions and minimal noise. Companies within the terminal will have to make use of each other’s residual heat and waste products. They will also be obliged to use the new rail line and inland shipping barges rather than trucks whenever possible.

Dutch citizens are being kept apprised of the project online at, where information and videos are posted in Dutch and English. One of main priorities of the project has been to improve the quality of living for area residents.