Bibby Line to ‘decarbonise’ all of its assets

Established as a shipping company in Liverpool in 1807, Bibby Line Group is now multi-faceted and employs 1,600 people in 16 countries and is pledging to transform its business. Tony McDonough reports

Bibby Wavemaster 1
Bibby Wavemaster 1, an offshore support vessel on the Mersey. Picture by Tony McDonough

One of Liverpool’s oldest businesses is launching 12 ‘trailblazer’ sustainability projects that will include the decarbonisation of all of its assets.

Amid this week’s COP26 climate summit, which saw world leaders including Boris Johnson and Joe Biden, gather in Glasgow, Bibby Line Group (BLG) has unveiled its own drive to foster the long term sustainability of its global, multi-faceted business.

Established as a shipping company in Liverpool in 1807, BLG is now a diverse business, operating in 16 countries and turning over more than £800m. The group employs 1,600 people in financial services, marine and construction equipment hire.

Project Compass’ will focus on four areas to foster the long term sustainability of the group: they are environment, community, people and customer. Goals include ‘net zero total carbon emissions by 2040’ and ‘1,000 colleague days given to the community every year’.

Based at Exchange Flags in Liverpool’s commercial district, BLG says it will become “a family business, known for creating a better future together” underpinned by a series of new and ambitious sustainability goals”.

The 12 trailblazer projects to kickstart activity include decarbonising its assets, working closer with local schools and colleges in disadvantaged areas, and a range of innovative colleague and customer initiatives.

BLG’s likely biggest challenge will be the decarbonisation of its maritime assets. It’s Bibby Marine subsidiary operates a fleet of WaveMaster offshore vessels which support facilities such as oil rigs and wind farms. It also operates six floating accommodation barges.

READ MORE: Bibby Line Group returns to profitability

Public perception of carbon emissions from transport often focuses on cars and aircraft, but maritime is one of the biggest emitters. Global shipping accounts for 3.5 to 4% of all man-made carbon emissions.

Marine fuel, especially the bunker fuel used by ocean-going vessels, is pretty toxic stuff. It is a tar-like sludge that contains 3,500 times more sulphur than the diesel used for cars.

In September LBN reported how Bibby Marine had launched the Wavemaster Zero C project, in partnership with other maritime industry leaders. This aims to “aims to analyse and determine which alternative fuel is best suited to the next generation service operation vessels”.

In its most recent set of accounts, published at Companies House, it said: “The results of this project have the potential to revolutionise the global shipping industry.”

Elsewhere the group, which is still more than 90% owned by the Bibby family, is also striving to slash its carbon footprint. It’s heavy plant hire business Garic now operates a fleet that is 60% eco/hybrid. The solar energy it delivers is enough to power the average UK home for eight months.

Bibby is committing to 1,000 colleague days given to the community every year

Jonathan Lewis, BLG Group managing director said: “I am very pleased to introduce Project Compass, setting out the group’s ambition to become even more sustainable and responsible.

“Since 1807, we’ve sought to be a responsible family business. Today, as a modern, diverse group we understand it is more important than ever that we focus this positive energy to ensure our business activities are truly sustainable.

“That’s why we are putting even greater emphasis on how we look after the environment, provide great service to customers, offer a great experience for our people and help to improve the communities in which we operate.

“I’m really proud of what we are already doing across the group, including leading the way in environmentally friendly welfare for construction workers, being at the forefront of bringing low and zero emissions technology to offshore wind farm maintenance and donating more £10m to charities through our Giving Something Back programme.

“I want us to do even more. Working with teams from across the group, we will collaborate to meet each individual goal and our new group vision of being a family business known for creating a better future together.”

Bibby’s partners on the Wav emaster Zero C project includeDamen Shipyards, Houlder, Lloyd’s Register, ORE Catapult, and Square 5, with support from EFC Energy Solutions  and Ricardo. MarRI-UK is providing grant funding to this project via the Clean Maritime Call grant fund.

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