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Environment

The Great Lakes-Seaway System is North America’s green transportation corridor. With superior fuel efficiency and fewer greenhouse gas emissions per metric ton-kilometer than trucking or rail, marine leads the way in environmentally smart transportation. Great Lakes ships are able to carry vast amounts of cargo in a single trip, reducing road congestion, highway maintenance costs and nuisance noise in this important trade region. The Great Lakes-Seaway marine industry — including ports, terminals, the Seaway and shipowners — is working to further reduce its environmental footprint by investing in new ships and participating in improvement programs like Green Marine.

Ships help preserve North America’s energy resources. 
Vessels operating on the Great Lakes are, on average, 7 times more fuel-efficient than trucks and 1.14 times more fuel-efficient than trains.

Distance in kilometres one metric ton of cargo travels on 1 litre of fuel

Source: Environmental and Social Impacts of Marine Transport in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway region, Research and Traffic Group (2013).


Ships have the smallest carbon footprint. Rail and truck would emit significantly more greenhouse gas emissions per cargo tonne/kilometre if these modes carried the same cargo the same distance as the Great Lakes-Seaway fleet.

Source: Environmental and Social Impacts of Marine Transport in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway region, Research and Traffic Group (2013).


Ships are able to carry vast amounts of cargo in a single trip.

Source: Environmental and Social Impacts of Marine Transport in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway region, Research and Traffic Group (2013).


Due to this carrying capacity, ships reduce road congestion and highway maintenance costs. It would take 7.1 million truck trips to carry the same amount of cargo that the Great Lakes-Seaway fleet does each year. That would increase existing truck traffic in the range of 35% to 100%, depending on the highway network. If Great Lakes-Seaway marine cargo shifted to trucks, it would lead to $4.6 billion in highway maintenance costs over 60 years.

 

 

 

 

Source: Environmental and Social Impacts of Marine Transport in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway region, Research and Traffic Group (2013).


 

Ships deliver a sustainable future.  New ship designs and engine technology introduced over the next 10 years to meet regulatory changes will reduce air emissions like Nitrogen Oxides by 86% and Sulfur Oxides by 99%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Environmental and Social Impacts of Marine Transport in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway region, Research and Traffic Group (2013).