Clean Cargo Overview


Founded in 2002, Clean Cargo Working Group was a business-to-business leadership initiative that involved major brands, cargo carriers, and freight-forwarders dedicated to reducing the environmental impacts of global goods transportation and promoting responsible shipping. As one of the most well-established green freight initiatives and one of the few with a global reach, Clean Cargo’s CO2 Emissions Calculation Methodology became the ocean shipping standard used by other initiatives, such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s SmartWay Program and the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC).

Following a member vote and a long-standing partnership, Clean Cargo became an initiative of Smart Freight Centre (SFC) in January 2022. Learn more about SFC.


The Clean Cargo Working Group’s Mission was:

  • To foster continuous improvement of environmental performance aspects of freight transport by sharing information and promoting best practices in the industries.
  • To promote environmentally responsible transportation through open dialogue and business to business collaboration.

Clean Cargo members shared a vision of a shipping industry that would be a responsible part of sustainable supply chains and that supports clean oceans, healthy port communities, and global climate goals.

Our Accomplishments

  • We provided reliable, year-on-year emissions-performance data from 23 of the world’s leading ocean carriers that represent approximately 85 percent of global ocean container capacity. 
  • 95 percent of cargo buyers in Clean Cargo used our data and tools in procurement decisions and in supplier relationships with cargo carriers. 
  • Clean Cargo’s annual emissions factors report indicates carriers reduced CO2 emissions per TEU-km by 35 percent since 2009.[1]

We pursued the CCWG vision and mission through biannual meetings, regular meetings with the Steering Committee, best practice sharing sessions, and four main workstreams:

  • Measuring, reporting, and evaluating performance data in marine container transport
  • Supporting responsible corporate engagement on public policy
  • Sharing best practices and member engagement
  • Catalyzing and partnering on projects that drive sustainability performance improvement

1 Changes in carrier representation or global trade conditions likely explain a portion of these results.


Clean Cargo Sustainable Development Goals Alignment

SDG icon, Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG icon, Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
SDG icon, Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
SDG icon, Goal 13: Climate Action
SDG icon, Goal 14: Life Below Water