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 pollutants 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 2023

Sustainable delivery pictogram
Material environmental topics identification
Progressed in identifying material environmental topics based on a double materiality assessment, supporting a more comprehensive identification of biodiversity impact baselines planned for 2024, guided by frameworks such as the Science-based Targets for Nature and the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures.
Implementing a global ESIA standard

Continued the roll-out of a global requirement for Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) aligned with international standards, with initial focus across our terminals business and further expansion across our logistics businesses planned for 2024.

Decision Making
Preventing transport of invasive species
Completed ballast water treatment system installations on 93% of our fleet, on track to achieve 100% by September 2024, the deadline set by the Ballast Water Management Convention for all shipowners to have treatment systems installed on their vessels.

Priorities and actions

As part of our ESG 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

We will reduce waste and pollution 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

Protecting ocean life and habitats

To reduce the risk of whale strikes or disturbing breeding whales, Maersk follows all mandatory speed reduction schemes at sea and has also implemented voluntary schemes, reducing speed or avoiding transit in restricted zones. A key lever is better leveraging technology to automate decision making and provide more accurate route planning to protect wildlife.

In 2023, Maersk started adding geofencing to StarConnect, our AI-powered fleet energy efficiency platform. Procedures in our Safety Management System help our crews know where whale protection zones and MARPOL areas exist, and to comply with required regulations.

Whale and calf

Supporting ocean and climate science

Maersk continues to leverage our vessels and ocean networks in support of ocean and climate science through long-standing partnerships with research organisations.

In 2023, Maersk supported the Oceans X - Xploration ISAMO (read more) project, an exploration of solutions that could one day recreate the natural process of methane oxidation, which removes methane from the atmosphere. Maersk crew on vessels crossing the Atlantic collected and returned 280 samples for analysis in 2023, helping scientists understand why methane oxidation occurs at an increased rate over the sea and in areas with high iron content, as well as the impact of dust from the Sahara Desert over the Atlantic Ocean.

Maersk crew on vessels

Assessing regional context to our water consumption

We have continued to assess the increasing risk of water stress and enhanced our methodologies to ensure greater consistency and accuracy in our assessments. In 2023, we have been able to provide water stress context to Maersk’s total 2023 consumption, using Aqueduct 4.0 data from the World Resource Institute.

In 2023, around 45% of Maersk’s assessed water consumption happened in high and extremely high water stress zones. Further, ~6% of the assessed water consumption occurs in arid zones, which are classified by WRI to both have low water availability as well as low water withdrawal. Please see more on p. 30 in the Sustainability Report 2023.

woman tracking on tablet

Efficient resource consumption

Maersk is engaged in several initiatives focusing on recycling and circular materials use. A prominent example relates to green steel connected with our ship recycling activities.

Another example is a mooring ropes recycling pilot initiated with C-Loop, a Wilhelmsen-backed venture. Mooring ropes are made of around 400kg of plastic, need to be replaced every 3-5 years, and are currently disposed of in landfills or incinerated - emitting GHGs and other pollutants, including microplastics. Maersk and C-Loop are exploring several solutions to repurpose or recycle the retired ropes. A pilot with 200 mooring ropes began in Singapore which will help scale up the initiative and validate a final solution including traceability and transparency for key factors such as lifecycle GHG emissions.

Mooring ropes

Sustainability Report 2023

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

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About us

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