Palermo Sociedad Portuaria – Effective strategies for carbon footprint reduction in the Colombian Caribbean

Colombian port terminals in the Caribbean are being called upon to increase the sustainability of their operations to better fit with the environmental dynamics of their locations. The Palermo Sociedad Portuaria (PSP) has since taken a proactive stance in identifying the factors contributing to its CO2 emissions and implementing low-cost solutions to reduce its carbon footprint.

The port carried out a study to measure its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which was published in the Journal of Sustainability. This study evaluated the CO2 emissions of the Palermo Sociedad Portuaria terminal during 2019 and 2020 which were used to determine the feasibility of implementing a series of sustainable practices to help mitigate CO2 emissions and reduce the port’s carbon footprint in the year 2022.  Three carbon footprint reduction strategies were implemented and their reduction potential was monitored over time, including:

  1. CO2 sequestration through the application of rock dust (10kg m-2) in the available green spaces within the operational areas which contributed to a decrease of 0.00080543 tons CO2 equivalent (CO2 eq) over 45 days.
  2. Strategic composting of waste generated by port activities (including organic waste, hand towels, coffee grounds and landscaping waste) resulted in the potential reduction of 2 metric tons of CO2 annually.
  3. The installation of the fuel reduction technology known as CARE, a technology-based system for reducing GHG and particulate matter emissions through increasing energy efficiency in operational equipment, led to a reduction in fuel consumption and a potential decrease of 1629 metric tons of CO2 eq over a five-year period.

The findings highlighted that the implementation of these three key measures over the course of a year has the potential to prevent the release of 37 ton CO2 eq equating to a 2% decrease in the overall carbon footprint when compared to the base year of 2020. Concerning the fuel reduction technology, this novel approach yields a month reduction of approximately 0.2 tons CO2 eq per piece of equipment which culminated in the acquisition of equipment by the port terminal to refine the baseline and establish the exact contribution to GHG reduction for 2022. Overall, the investigation was rooted in the current operational reality of the port terminal and its correlated activities, and the strategies deployed showcased the feasibility of low-cost solutions that can be emulated across port terminals.