A port can transition to a circular port through a series of phases and the related actions concerning its major inputs (land, capital, energy, equipment, labor) and outputs:
- Conventional port. Tend to focus on greenfield development projects and is challenged by the reconversion of existing sites that are underused or abandoned. Most of the equipment is powered by fossil fuels, and electricity may also be generated by fossil fuels. Financing for infrastructure, superstructures, and equipment is dominantly assessed from a rate-of-return (RoR) basis, with limited consideration of environmental accounting. The port acts as an intermediary location in supporting linear supply chains with the handling and transit of import and export cargoes. The port is connected to the shipping network through scheduled services with ships powered by bunker fuels. Wastes generated by port activities are partially recycled, but most end up in landfills.
- Transitional port. The land footprint of the port is more comprehensively managed with strategies aiming at reusing brownfield sites with new activities, but greenfield development projects are still common. Efforts are made to electrify the equipment with labor partially substituted through automation and digitalization. Energy transition projects are implemented, including alternative energy sources and surplus heat distribution. Circular economy projects such as material exchange platforms begin to be implemented to identify opportunities. In particular, hubs for material recovery and reuse are being set. Most port emissions and waste generation are being identified and monitored. Further, green corridors, both at the foreland and hinterland, are set with a reliance on alternative fuels.
- Circular port. Land management is fully integrated with strategies to reuse all the brownfield sites under the port’s jurisdiction, with greenfield developments uncommon. Most of terminal activities have been automated and electrified. Several activities related to renewable energy generation and distribution are present, allowing port activities to be supplied with renewable heat and electricity. The financing and environmental reporting are mainly undertaken through ESG guidelines. Gargo handling has been integrated within circular supply chains, and connectivity is mainly achieved through green corridors. The port becomes an effective material sourcing hub with recycling and reuse processing techniques for different materials, products, and waste streams. Port-related wastes are close to being fully recycled and reused and made available to other activities.
Path dependency by type of terminal.