In Depth: The Integral Part of Boskalis

For many within the maritime and offshore industries Boskalis is a household name. Though perhaps more recently in the public eye due to adding Smit International and Dockwise, which has further strengthened the company and her possibilities, Maritime by Holland Magazine dredges deeper into the company’s sustainable work ethic and thinking.

“Sustainability“, says Joost Rijnsdorp, manager procurement and logistics, “is an integral part of our company. It is something we pride ourselves on.”

Boskalis was founded in 1910 in the small riverside town of Sliedrecht the Netherlands and now 104 years later the company has over 11,000 employees, is active in 75 countries spread over six continents and boasts a fleet of 1,100 vessels. The company is a world-leading player in the field of dredging and maritime services. The offshore energy activities form an increasingly important part of their business. The record turnover in 2013 amounted 3.539 million euros. You would be forgiven for thinking that a company this large has forgotten on matters of environment, durability and sustainability. Though, Rijnsdorp proves this is anything but the truth. He speaks with much enthusiasm and pride on how Boskalis is thinking green in every sense of the word.

Dutch Sourcing Award

“In April 2014 we won two Dutch Sourcing Awards, one for sustainability and also the overall award”, smiles Rijnsdorp. The annual Dutch Sourcing Award is supported by the Foundation for the Forward Development of Procurement, in co-operation with NEVI and Spend Matters and aims to stimulate purchasing achievements. Rijnsdorp: “It is an honour to receive this award and to have our team recognised in this way.”

Talk with the supplier

The award is due to the company’s approach to generate a more sustainable value chain through dialogue and cooperation with its suppliers and for the way Procurement acted as the driver for the current sustainability climate at Boskalis. “Our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy is an integral part of all our activities, from how we approach our employees as well as how we do business with our suppliers and customers. Discussing this matter with our stakeholders ensures we develop durable solutions and in doing so we can generate more value. We feel it is important to work together on this subject.” A good example of this are the ‘meet the buyer sessions’ first launched in 2011, where 16 of Boskalis’ key strategic suppliers were invited to start up a structured dialogue in a series of three sessions. “Our goal was to mesh together parties from all chains of the process, so from suppliers of paints and fuels to suppliers of engines for our vessels”, comments Rijnsdorp. “Various sustainable initiatives were discussed, as it was our aim for the discussion to remain open and transparent, from new technical solutions to alternative energy sources. As a result, we not only became more critical of ourselves, but also of our suppliers. This led to the start up of several other initiatives like our ‘Supplier Code of Conduct’. This code incorporates sustainability criteria that mirror Boskalis’ own general business principles and introduces the ‘implementation scans’.”

No 7 MbH OktNov 2014.jpg 28 1He continues: “These implementation scans are developed in cooperation with Twynstra Gudde/Adviestalent and performed on the basis of the Socially Responsible Procurement monitoring method of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply. The implementation scan is not an audit but a dialogue to establish where we need to improve their CSR performance and how we can help them in this process. Since the implementation we have held implementation scans in 2012, 2013 and 2014 in twelve countries and visited 60 suppliers. We appreciate their feedback as much as we learn from their practices. We have also noticed considerable improvements along the way. This is what we want, to improve, together.”

Fuel the industry

Other initiatives related to the ‘meet the buyer sessions’ were the GTL pilot, GTL, which stands for gas-to-liquids, is a liquid fuel made by converting natural gas into synthetic diesel, which drastically reduces emission of NOx, SOx, fine dust particles and black smoke. “Boskalis entered this pilot together with Shell, who produces the GTL. A test was run and the crew on board of the test vessel had very positive experiences”, says Rijnsdorp. The partnership with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Argos named SkyNRG is another sustainable initiative. SkyNRG aims to make biofuels available to the aviation industry as a whole, yet right now that is not economically feasible. As Boskalis employees clock up a large amount of flight hours the company could have chosen to offset their environmental impact but instead preferred to engage in a structural solution. They have agreed to conduct a pilot on their trucks in the Netherlands, which means purchasing 250,000 litres of biofuel and learning what happens to the technical performance of the equipment. Rijnsdorp: “The test has been successful and the next step could be to have it rolled out on one of our ships.”

Industry leader in the responsible dismantling of vessels

Furthermore, Boskalis is working on creating value with cast iron wearing parts in cooperation with several European foundries, when they realised they could reuse materials that would normally be disposed of. Next to that the company, together with recycling company Beelen, is looking at new leases of life for old floating pipes and last but very much not least, Boskalis is industry leader in regards to the responsible dismantling of vessels, where talks with the North Sea foundation, a member of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, have been fruitful. Rijnsdorp: “Our ships are dismantled only at yards that comply with international legislation and regulations and with our own strict safety standards. The ships must also be dismantled on a hard surface or in dry dock to minimise the risk of pollution and environmental damage. Boskalis will always ensure that inspections are carried out by our own people or with our supervision to ensure that our ships really are dismantled according to the terms of the contract.” In 2013 fallpipe vessel the Sandpiper, owned by Boskalis, was dismantled at a shipyard that is ISRA, or International Ship Recycling Association, certified. Which shows the company practices what she preaches.

No 7 MbH OktNov 2014.jpg 28 2

Building with Nature

“Another important example is the five year, multi-stakeholder Building with Nature research programme. With the programme Boskalis gained a lot of knowledge and experience about the dynamics of nature and how to use that information to come to better ecological designs for marine infrastructure projects. Ideas, concepts and opportunities are being embraced and developed and we have the support from the highest level of our company. Our CEO Peter Berdowski is a great believer in making our CSR policy an integral part of our company”, concludes Rijnsdorp. “In November 2014 we will initiate another ‘meet the buyer sessions’, which I am sure will lead to many more sustainable insights for the future.”

Rebecca McFedries

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