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What Would a Post-Carbon Supply Chain Look Like?

carbon supply chain

What Would a Post-Carbon Supply Chain Look Like?

Businesses worldwide are pushing for more sustainable practices. As the threat of climate change has worsened, it’s become clear that industry as a whole must move away from carbon emission-generating practices. This movement has significant implications for supply chains.

Today’s supply chains are far from carbon-free. An organization’s supply chain often accounts for 90% of its greenhouse gas emissions when taking overall climate impacts into account. From diesel-powered trucks to natural gas-generated warehouse power, these networks rely heavily on fossil fuels.

It can be hard to imagine supply chains without these resources, but it’s not impossible. Here’s what a post-carbon supply chain would look like and how companies could achieve it.

Electric Vehicles

The most obvious difference between today’s supply chains and a post-carbon one is their vehicles. Transportation accounts for 21% of total global emissions, and freight constitutes a considerable portion of that figure. Almost all trucks that move freight today use fossil fuels, but post-carbon transport will be electric.

Electric trucks will likely be the first type of carbon-free vehicles to appear in supply chains. General Motors has already established goals to produce zero emissions, and electric road vehicles are increasingly common. Post-carbon supply chains will bring electrification to more than just trucks, though.

Ships and airplanes will also be electric. Their longer routes will require more efficiency, so they may rely on technologies like fuel cells or solar power instead of batteries. Regardless of the specifics, every vehicle in the post-carbon supply chain will be electric.

Green Power Sources

While vehicles may be the easiest culprit to pinpoint, they’re not the only source of emissions. Supply chains consume a considerable amount of energy, most of which comes from fossil fuels. In fact, if 125 multinational companies increased their supply chain renewable energy by 20%, they would save more than 1 billion metric tons of carbon emissions.

In a post-carbon supply chain, all energy would come from renewable sources. That would likely mean using various technologies, as sustainable power has varying effectiveness in different applications. Solar, wind and hydroelectric power would all play a part in the transition to zero-carbon operations.

A truly zero-carbon supply chain would also use renewables to generate power for its electric vehicles. Creating batteries or hydrogen for fuel cells requires energy, and this too must be green for supply chains to be truly sustainable.

Sustainable Sourcing

A more easily overlooked aspect of post-carbon supply chains is how sustainability plays into their corporate partnerships. A truly zero-emissions supply chain must ensure its suppliers are also carbon-free. Otherwise, it would still be investing in emissions-producing activity, albeit indirectly.

Industrial sectors like manufacturing are responsible for 29.6% of total emissions in the U.S. If a supply chain moved products from a company with such a significant carbon footprint, one could hardly consider it carbon-free. In a truly post-carbon supply chain, all connected sources are also zero emissions.

Ensuring these connections are sustainable requires a considerable amount of transparency. As such, post-carbon supply chains will require regular audits from involved parties to verify their sustainability. They’ll likely also employ technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) trackers and blockchains to keep operations transparent.

How Can the World Move Toward Post-Carbon Supply Chains?

These factors may seem like lofty goals right now. Today’s supply chains have a long way to go before they can say they’re truly carbon-free. Thankfully, however far-off these sustainability targets may seem, they are achievable. Companies can start acting now to move toward them.

Recognizing the business incentives for removing carbon from the supply chain can help encourage further action. According to one study, 84% of global consumers are more likely to make purchase decisions based on a company’s sustainability practices. Similarly, 61% are willing to wait for longer delivery times if they know it’s better for the environment.

Interest in sustainable supply chains will grow when more organizations realize these benefits. As this trend gains momentum, here are a few ways supply chains can start moving toward zero-carbon goals.

Improve Visibility

The first step in moving away from carbon is improving supply chain visibility. Companies can’t effectively become more sustainable if they don’t know the extent of their current unsustainable practices. Audits and studies can reveal where carbon emissions come from in a supply chain, guiding further action.

Organizations must also ensure their emissions monitoring is an ongoing process. Without continuous checking, they won’t be able to tell how different actions impact their overall goals. Periodic audits and implementing IoT sensors to track carbon emissions can ensure ongoing transparency.

In that spirit, supply chains should start improving visibility between partners. Asking for suppliers to offer proof of their sustainability initiatives will encourage broader action and help reduce emissions on all fronts.

Invest in Green Technologies

Some aspects of the post-carbon supply chain, like electric vehicles, aren’t applicable right now. While options may be limited today, more investment in these technologies will speed their development, making sustainability more viable quicker.

Many companies have already begun to invest in green technologies. Maserati has invested more than $867 million to refurbish its production hub to produce electric cars. As more money flows into these innovations, efficient, low-cost, carbon-free technologies will become available sooner, aiding a faster transition.

Green energy is a technology, not a resource. As such, it will only become cheaper and more efficient over time. Consequently, while some of these technologies may not be viable business choices now, they will be eventually, especially with more funding.


Since supply chains are so interconnected, it will take increased collaboration to push them away from carbon. Decarbonization is also a considerable undertaking. The transition will be far easier and faster if companies can work together toward a common goal.

Collaboration can mitigate the financial burden of decarbonization. Similarly, it can help some companies overcome any qualms they may have about the risks of going green. Climate action experts highlight that shared responsibility translates into reduced risk, at least in people’s perception of it.

In addition to collaborating with other related companies, supply chains can partner with environmental organizations. They can help show where improvements can be made, guiding more effective action.

Supply Chains Must Become More Sustainable

Supply chains are essential to virtually every industry, and they often produce some of the most emissions. As such, these operations must move away from fossil fuels as companies seek to become more sustainable.

The post-carbon supply chain seems like a lofty goal, but it’s attainable. When organizations realize these things are possible, they can start moving toward a better future.


Decarbonisation to Reveal New Development Prospects for the Global Monoethanolamine Market

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Monoethanolamine And Its Salts – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends And Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The global decarbonisation trend, the increasing number of CCS projects (carbon capture and storage facility) being implemented, and the widespread use of monoethanolamine (MEA) as an absorbing agent to capture СО2 emissions could provide significant impetus to the further development of the MEA market. MEA is currently one of the most widely used absorbing agents in the oil and gas sectors for the purification of industrial waste. 

Key Trends and Insights

Over the past decade, the global MEA market has indicated steady, measured growth. According to IndexBox estimates, global consumption reached 636К tonnes. The USA (16.7%), China (16.6%) and Germany (7.7%) are the leading manufacturers of monoethanolamine.

The use of MEA as an absorbing agent for gas purification may increase significantly: MEA is widely used to capture carbon emissions. The number of CCS projects being implemented, according to Global CCS Institute data, is on the rise: there are currently 56 commercial CCS facilities, 26 of these are in operation, 2 remain idle, impacted by force-majeure circumstances, 16 are at the project stage or under construction, and 21 remain at the initial design stage. The total aggregate capacity of CO2 capture plant facilities, including those under design, increased from 85 million tonnes in 2019 to 110 million tonnes in 2020. Other physical and chemical absorbing agents can be used to capture carbon dioxide gas, but the use of MEA remains the most established. The USA, Australia, Europe and East Asia represent potentially promising markets for MEA: they boast the highest number of scheduled CCS projects.

In the medium term to 2030, the MEA market is set to expand to 800K tonnes (2.3% CAGR), spurred by rising demand from the gas purification sector and continued demand from other consuming industries, including emulsifiers, herbicides and surfactants.

Monoethanolamine Consumption by Country

The country with the largest volume of monoethanolamine consumption was China (148K tonnes), accounting for 23% of the total volume. Moreover, monoethanolamine consumption in China exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest consumer, India (64K tonnes), twofold. Belgium (53K tonnes) ranked third in terms of total consumption with an 8.4% share.

In China, monoethanolamine consumption expanded at an average annual rate of +4.4% over 2012-2020. The remaining consuming countries recorded the following average annual rates of consumption growth: India (+5.0% per year) and Belgium (+40.4% per year).

In value terms, China ($382M) led the market, alone. The second position in the ranking was occupied by India ($142M). It was followed by Belgium.

Global Monoethanolamine Imports

In 2020, overseas purchases of monoethanolamine and its salts decreased by -18.4% to 260K tonnes, falling for the second consecutive year after seven years of growth. In value terms, monoethanolamine imports dropped remarkably to $277M in 2020.

In 2020, China (44K tonnes), Canada (31K tonnes), the UK (26K tonnes), Belgium (23K tonnes) and India (22K tonnes) was the major importer of monoethanolamine and its salts in the world, achieving 56% of total import. The following importers – Germany (11K tonnes), the Netherlands (11K tonnes), Japan (9.8K tonnes), Spain (9K tonnes), Italy (7.7K tonnes), Poland (4.6K tonnes) and Sweden (4.5K tonnes) – together made up 22% of total imports.

In value terms, China ($36M), Canada ($32M) and India ($26M) constituted the countries with the highest levels of imports in 2020, with a combined 34% share of global imports.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

carbon capture

Four Ways Carbon Capture Will Be A Game-Changer for Climate Change

Climate change is real, and carbon plays a significant role. According to the EPA, about 65 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and other industrial processes. This doesn’t even include other sources of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and nitrous oxide.

Carbon and other greenhouse gasses retain radiant heat from the sun, which causes an insulating effect that raises the atmospheric temperature. This overall temperature increase, also referred to as global warming, has been shown to be a direct cause of numerous negative climate events including the melting of polar ice caps, rising ocean levels, devastating and in some cases irreparable damage to ocean coral reefs, as well as unstable and harsh weather and storm patterns that cause catastrophic damage and loss of life. The use of technology such as carbon capture could be part of a global solution to the world’s carbon emission problem.

What is carbon capture?

Simply put, carbon capture is a means of collecting carbon from exhaust flues when it is produced as a biproduct of fossil fuel combustion (primarily CO and CO2). This carbon is released into the air from sources such as powerplants, manufacturing plants, or various modes of transportation that use carbon-based fuels including coal, natural gas, biomass, oil, and other fuel sources. The idea is to collect the carbon before it is released into the environment, thereby reducing its environmental impact.

Four ways in which carbon capture will be a game-changer

By reducing carbon emissions released into the atmosphere from industrial sources, we can make a significant impact on climate change. Carbon capture has encouraging potential and could radically alter the energy landscape because:

1. It allows the continued use of highly energy-dense and efficient carbon-based fuels (coal, natural gas and oil) without contributing additional carbon gasses to the atmosphere.

2. When applied to biomass-fueled combustion power plants, carbon capture has the potential to result in negative carbon emissions. Since the biomass sources—in the form of forest and agricultural waste—absorb and store carbon dioxide as part of natural lifecycles, capturing and sequestering the carbon dioxide after it is released effectively removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

3. It sustains healthy global economic growth through abundant and affordable energy.

4. It retains billions of dollars in sunk costs in existing carbon-based generation infrastructure by sequestering carbon emissions.

What are the challenges of implementing carbon capture technology?

While carbon capture is incredibly promising, it does come with its own challenges. To date, the technologies that have shown potential have not been demonstrated at scale. By and large, they have only been verified in test environments. More tests in real-life carbon capture situations need to take place to prove that it is truly a viable option. Additionally, the economic tipping point has not been reached to allow carbon capture to compete with traditional thermal, nuclear, or renewable generation due to the intensive capital cost of installation.

Additional innovation and investment would need to take place to develop more cost-effective options, thereby reducing the cost and incentivizing manufacturing and transportation providers to install carbon capture systems. Finally, there exists a reputational barrier as carbon-based fuel combustion has become a target of environmental activists, who may not be receptive to the idea of “clean carbon” or “carbon neutral” initiatives. If we can both scale carbon capture and make it affordable, we can then show positive results that prove the system works. This scientific data is needed to help change the minds of environmental activists and politicians who are making environmental protection laws, to help them see substantial evidence that this type of technology will reduce carbon in the atmosphere.

The future of carbon capture

As carbon capture technology matures and closes scalability and commercial hurdles, it could result in a significant resurgence in carbon-based power generation. This will require time and money to navigate any barriers to entry both technically and politically. The bottom line is that carbon capture is incredibly promising, and as innovators in this area can show that it is good for the environment as well as for industry, it will be more likely to be adopted and supported.

As the goal of carbon reduction remains at the forefront of global concerns, IHI Power Services Corp is deeply interested in the potential advantages of carbon capture. Environmental stewardship and support services are part of its values and it is looking to new and innovative ways to protect the environment while supporting the power industry.


Dan Consie has 30 years of experience in the power generation industry with skills in business and contract management, engineering, operation and maintenance, and rotating equipment vibration diagnostics and balancing. Consie has held plant engineer, plant manager and asset manager positions and is currently serving as vice president of strategic initiatives at IHI Power Services Corp. (IPSC).