Environment and ecosystems

As active citizens of the Earth, we are committed to doing as little harm as possible while at the same time actively participating in restoring ocean and land health and resilience, as well as protecting animal habitats where we operate.

Why our ecosystem impacts matter

Our activities impact life on land and in oceans. The ships, trucks, trains, warehouses, depots and planes we use to store and move our customers’ goods emit pollutants to the air and into water systems. This in turn influences the living environments of humans and other species.

Our ambition

We see ourselves as active citizens of the Earth, operating on the oceans as well as increasingly on land. We are committed to doing as little harm as possible while at the same time actively participating in restoring ocean and land health and resilience, as well as protecting animal habitats where we operate.

Environment and ecosystem

Our targets

We set targets and measure our progress through KPIs and relevant metrics for the following priority areas:

Protecting ecosystem health & biodiversity

  • Avoid invasive species from ballast water
  • Avoid or minimise operations in sensitive or protected areas in oceans and on land
  • Support ocean health through scientific research collaborations and partnerships including The Ocean Cleanup
  • Avoid transport of illegal wildlife and endangered species

Pollution and waste

  • Avoid spills from vessels and minimise pollution impacts across all operations
  • Reduce air emissions impacts (SOx, NOx and particulate matters)
  • Avoid accidental loss of containers to the sea
  • Ensure strong environmental management systems in place across all operations
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Efficient resource consumption

  • Improve resource efficiency
  • Reduce impact of freshwater consumption

Highlights in 2022

Social connectivity
Forging alliances and being an active collaborator
Engaged in alliances and collaborative work to refine our understanding and manage and account for our potential negative and positive impacts on nature, with the aspiration of aligning to science-based targets for nature once universal standards are defined
planning and control pictogram
Enhancing our performance methodologies 

Improved metholodogies in 2022 for measuring air emissions and context-based reporting of water consumption. We report on actions and performance across our four key indicators of waste, pollution, and water consumption

Strengthening whale protection initiatives
We contributed to IMO Guidelines on the prevention of wildlife trafficking in partnership with the World Shipping Council

Priorities and actions

As part of our sustainability strategy, we have identified four material areas of impact where we can make a significant difference to ocean and land health, including animal habitats.

Ecosystem health and biodiversity

We will protect the ecosystems in which we operate and support scientific research and partnerships where synergies exist.


Waste and pollution, including air emissions

We will reduce waste, pollution and emissions in the global supply chain through environmental management systems, global policies, and clear action plans.

Ship Location

Responsible ship recycling

We will ensure safe and responsible ship recycling of our own vessels, and work towards creating opportunities globally to the benefit of workers, environment, responsible yards and shipowners.


Efficient resource consumption

We will work towards efficient resource use, recovery and recycling across our company.

Featured highlights and case stories

Ecosystem health and biodiversity

The irreparable effects of biodiversity loss are beginning to be recognised as equally as serious as the effects of climate change, and their impacts will be felt for generations to come. There is an increasing focus on biodiversity and alignment among policymakers, industry, civil society and the financial community.

Given the critical need to reverse global biodiversity loss, we are establishing a baseline for biodiversity impacts, so we can set targets rooted in scalable best practices.

Managing our growth sustainably

We are increasingly expected to have externally certified management systems in place across our entire business. This is now common in tender requirements and in dialogues with our customers. Our ocean-based activities have been ISO 14001 certified for over a decade. We are working to gain a deeper understanding of the benefits, risks and opportunities associated with establishing a company-wide third-party verified system.

In 2022, we focused on strengthening environmental standards and frameworks to support organic and inorganic growth, as well as our ongoing operations. We want to ensure that we are expanding our operations with a structured environmental and social framework that helps us to ‘design-out’ impact and issues. At the same time, we also want to maximise positive effects and make sure that we fully understand the environmental and social performance, risks and opportunities created by our significant inorganic growth – especially in our landside operations.

Enhancing our air emissions reporting

As a member of the Alliance for Clean Air, we have contributed to the development of a pioneering methodology – the Stockholm environment Institute (SEI) methodology – for measuring corporate emissions across value chains. During the pilot, we calculated our emissions associated with electricity generation, fuel combustion, and industrial processes.

Our first emissions inventory shows that our ocean business is currently the largest emitter, contributing heavily to Maersk’s nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. However, our expansion into landside transportation will entail further increase in our air emissions.

See more details in the ESG Fact Book.

Sustainability Report 2022

Explore our progress on environmental, social and governance dimensions in our latest Sustainability Report.
Maersk sustainability report

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About us

Learn more about A.P. Moller - Maersk, our values, leadership, our history and more.