21 UK ports, United Kingdom


Resource Efficiency Groups (REGs) have been in operation at each region/business unit of ABP since the start of 2005. The purpose of the REGs and the projects they develop is to achieve measurable reductions in resource usage. The strategy has proved highly successful and has achieved year-on-year reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

What is it and how does it work?

Associated British Ports (ABP) is the UK’s largest ports group, with 21 ports and a range of related cargo transport businesses. ABP introduced REGs in 2005, with the intention to lower levels of resource consumption across the group. The REGs are responsible for projects to achieve this and can address any topic area they choose, although the overall corporate targets are focused on maintenance and reduction of CO2 emissions and consumption of electricity and water.

REGs are multidisciplinary groups made up of representatives from all departments (Personnel, Finance, Operations, Engineering, Property, etc). REGs meet approximately three to four times a year to discuss progress on their projects. In their first full year of operation (2005) a group total of 44 projects were implemented by the REGs, and since then, each REG must continue to undertake at least five new initiatives per year.

Progress on these projects is reported to the Sustainable Development Team of the ABP Group each quarter and to the Operational Board on an annual basis. Examples are collated and fed into the company’s annual Corporate Social Responsibility reports.

The departmental representatives are responsible for capturing ideas for new initiatives from other personnel in their respective departments and introducing these ideas into REG discussions. Other measures have been introduced to increase communication with staff and facilitate idea-sharing, such as notice boards, email reminders, staff intranet and a group-wide Environment Forum.

A REG workshop was held in April 2008 in order to facilitate the sharing of ideas across the group and to provide the Sustainable Development team with an opportunity to highlight areas that the REGs should focus on as a result of legislative developments, etc. The workshop was highly productive and ABP is likely to make it an annual event.


The REGs have undertaken a wide range of projects, addressing areas such as increased fuel efficiencies, water efficiency, waste audits & waste reduction, recycling and switch-off campaigns. Examples include:

  • Southampton (2005) Pilot Boat Efficiency analysis identified optimum speed of 17 knots to reduce fuel consumption – estimated 6% reduction in annual fuel consumption (1,144,781 litres) which at the time amounted to an approximate annual saving of £16,000.
  • Grimsby & Immingham (present) – sale of scrap metal, primarily from cargo strappings – approximate annual income of £20,000.
  • Teignmouth – Recycling facilities set up for ships’ waste whereby labelled bags are taken on board visiting vessels for direct segregation of wastes and subsequent increased recovery/recycling of materials – no cost benefits to ABP as costs for Ships’ Waste is passed onto vessels, but environmental benefits include reduced volumes sent to landfill.
  • East Anglia – Ongoing upgrade of port lighting across port estates for more efficient counterparts when due for replacement. Approximate annual savings of £13,000.
  • Humber Estuary Services – investment in 3 new pilot launches fitted with two Scania 16 litre diesel engines, which are rated at 525 bhp running at 1800rpm. By governing these engines to run at 1700rpm, the required service speed of 22 knots can be achieved at only 67% output, giving excellent fuel economy, prolonging engine life, and reducing emissions. Fuel consumption is only 85% and 30% of the vessels previously used.

CO2 emissions reductions

Reduction cannot be attributed directly to the REG operations, but since their first full year of operation in 2005, ABP has achieved seen year-on-year reductions in CO2 levels (on a like-for-like basis – normalised by operational revenue each annum)

  • 2005 saw a 6.3% reduction on 2004 levels
  • 2006 saw a 10.8% reduction on 2005 levels
  • 2007 saw a 5% reduction on 2006 levels

Over 20,000 tCO2e have been reduced since 2004. This represents a 20% reduction on total emissions for ABP, which stood at 100,203 tonnes in 2004 to 79,730 tonnes at the end of 2007.

Energy efficiency

Reduction cannot be attributed directly to the REG operations, but since their first full year of operation in 2005 ABP has achieved year-on-year reductions in Electricity consumption (on a like-for-like basis – normalised by operational revenue each annum)

  • 2005 saw a 3.4% reduction on 2004 levels
  • 2006 saw a 1.4% reduction on 2005 levels
  • 2007 saw a 3.3% reduction on 2006 levels


Set-up costs for the REGs were negligible and operational costs are low, only including the time of the personnel involved. Individual project costs vary, but pay-back periods are generally within one year. Savings as a result of these projects were estimated at ~£470,000 in 2006. This figure is for water and electricity savings only and does not include other benefits such as reduced fuel costs or waste disposal costs.

Next steps

The Sustainable Development Team of ABP is working to ensure that the momentum of REGs is maintained. An important mechanism is to increase communication both within regions and across the entire group, to help capture and share ideas. Measures include:

  • Soon-to-be-online REG/Environment Forum.
  • Environmental PR Campaigns
  • Annual REG workshops for chairs.

Further improvement of water efficiencies will also be a focus of ABP’s work, as they are yet to see consistent reductions of water consumption via the CSR reporting mechanism.