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Energy Efficiency

World’s Largest Container Ships Will Be Recycled…Eventually

Maersk will build world's largest container ships, then recycle themPlenty of people are interested in recycling shipping containers – the military even mods them out to build fake training villages – but what about recycling the entire ship? Well, Danish shipping giant Maersk is going for it on a grand scale. The company is ordering up to 30 new ships at $190 million a pop. Called the Triple-E class, they are said to be the largest vessel of any kind (at least, for now), and each will come with a cradle-to-cradle “passport” documenting every component for future recycling or reuse.

Recycling Old Ships

Salvage is about as old as shipping itself, but the Maersk program takes it to a new level. As Will Nichols over at reports, the company anticipates that about 90% of the material on each ship can be re-used to build future ships. The other 10% will be recycled or disposed of “in the safest, most efficient manner” according to the company. Documenting the components builds a significant new measure of cost-effectiveness into lifecycle planning, which adds to the value of recycled materials compared to newly manufactured components.

Greener Shipping

Carbon emissions from shipping are a big and growing part of the climate change picture. Maersk’s new ships offer a way to help get that under control, and not just through recycling. The new ships were named Triple-E for “Economy of scale, Energy efficient, and Environmentally improved.” Scale is pretty straightforward: bigger ships mean fewer trips. A new hull and bow design will contribute to energy efficiency, and the ships will sport a waste heat recovery system to capture and reuse the energy from engine exhaust gas. All together, Maersk expects the ships to move containers through the Asia-Europe trade lane with about 50 percent less carbon emissions and 35 percent less fuel per container than the industry average.

Image: Recycling by Tamaa Burross on

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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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