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Case study

Global Container Terminals

Emission Reductions:
Zero increase in carbon emissions produced on terminal while volumes increased by 6% – successfully decoupling growth in revenue from growth in emissions

Cost Savings:
Influenced drayage partners to achieve $5 million in fuel savings

Key Solutions:
Realizing GCT’s Global Commitment to continue leading the industry to operate more sustainability through continued implementation of initiatives including:

  • Introducing process and design change, as well as innovative container handling equipment fleet improvements to significantly reduce fuel consumption, idling, and dwell times
  • Trialing new equipment, processes, and technologies
  • Investing in lighting and equipment upgrades on major equipment as well as on the terminals
  • Introducing truck reservation systems
  • Identifying opportunities for continuous improvement by key Engineering & Maintenance users, as well as through lean-certified in house Operations Excellence team
  • Participating with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) in its Energy Action Initiative

The marine sector as a whole contributes approximately 3% of global greenhouse gases, so when Canada’s largest container terminal operator commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the potential for impact is significant. Established in Vancouver in 1907, Global Container Terminals (GCT) is a homegrown private company that has continuously invested in building cleaner, safer, and more efficient facilities. As the largest tenant in the Port of Vancouver, GCT’s marine terminals – GCT Deltaport and GCT Vanterm – are the primary Asia Pacific Gateways for container trade to Canada. GCT Deltaport recently completed a $300mm intermodal yard expansion, increasing rail capacity by 50% all within its existing footprint.

As part of its Global Commitment, joining Climate Smart was the next step for GCT to improve its environmental performance while also helping the VFPA to achieve its vision of becoming the world’s most sustainable port. In addition to Climate Smart, GCT is also a leading member of the voluntary Green Marine certification program. GCT involves staff across all levels in the company in the planning and implementation of sustainability initiatives. At the end of this year, nine individuals will have received training with Climate Smart. Climate Smart carbon emissions data management is a key aspect of GCT’s Global Commitment work.

Since its baseline year in 2014, GCT Canada has achieved a reduction in absolute emissions as well as a 5.86% reduction per 1,000 twenty-foot equivalent units of throughput, while it continued to grow. Moving forward, the company will continue to explore and implement industry-leading technology to further reduce emissions and improve efficiency. GCT is committed to ongoing Climate Smart certification, and is focused on implementing its sustainability roadmap to ensure continued advancement of its environmental performance.

Internal Influence
GCT continuously trials and implements efficiency solutions within their own operations, with significant improvements found through both operational densification – which maximizes the use of existing infrastructure – and fleet management improvements, including route optimization and conversion of all its on-dock street vehicles to propane. Further, a wide variety of fleet types at GCT involved a different efficiency solution:

  • Adopting B10 biodiesel at GCT Deltaport ahead of B5 regulation, resulting in cleaner on-terminal fleet operations
  • Introducing 8 high-efficiency electric rail cranes as part of its recent expansion, which through design and process change increased rail capacity by more than 50% within its existing footprint, reducing emissions through route optimization and equipment replacement.
  • Trialing hybrid, auto start-stop technology in yard tractors to reduce fuel consumption and emissions – in partnership with the VFPA as part of its Energy Action Initiative


External Influence
GCT’s collaboration with customers, port authorities, indigenous groups, industry and community associations, vendors, and suppliers is a key aspect of their sustainability strategy. They continually challenge partners and customers to improve their practices.

  • Introducing a full truck reservation system that reduces idling time and emissions in street trucks and removes 11,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually – or the equivalent of over 2,400 cars off the road – and $5 million in fuel savings.

This single operational change means that GCT has influenced a wide supply chain, including trucking companies that transport goods, warehouses that store goods, and even the stores that sell those goods. All along this network, efficiencies were pursued as a result of GCT’s innovative reservation system. The improvement was so significant that GCT USA is the first terminal operator on the East Coast to introduce an expanded truck appointment system in the Port of New York and New Jersey, with plans for full program expansion this year.

Click here to watch a video about GCT’s 2019 Deltaport intermodal yard expansion.
Click here to watch a video about GCT’s Vanterm expansion at the Port of Vancouver.

GCT Canada’s new cantilevered rail mounted gantry (CRMG) cranes showcase the company’s “Global Commitment” logo, which are placed on new, heavy iron, container handling equipment that are either electric, hybrid, or Tier 4x. These fully electric CRMGs are the first in Canada and the West Coast, and part of the recent $300mm expansion at GCT Deltaport.

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