Air quality

Air quality is heavily influenced by the the quantities of nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter. The relevant standards that have been laid down by Flanders and Europe are a challenge for companies operating in the port of Antwerp, which is situated in a densely-populated region, with a very dense road network and plenty of industrial zones.

The “Action plan for particulate matter and nitrogen oxide in the port of Antwerp” was signed in 2008. It was renewed because it proved so successful for 2014-2018. The plan sets out points of action for the Government of Flanders, the port community and the City of Antwerp.  

  • These include the development of onshore power supplies so barges no longer depend on generators.
  • Financial benefits for barges with more environmentally-friendly motors.
  • Support for Clean Inland Shipping (CLINSH), for more environmentally-friendly barges.
  • Partnerships with other ports to improve air quality.
  • Transformation of existing tugs into environmentally-friendly vessels, e.g., hybrid tugs.


The effects of these efforts are closely monitored and updated. Air quality has strongly improved since then. Since 2013, the annual norms for nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide have not been exceeded. The desulphurisation process, among others, is responsible for the reduction in the level of sulphur dioxide emissions with sulphur being extracted from fossil fuels.  There has also been a huge drop in particulate matter emissions from industrial companies and maritime shipping.

Road transport

There is still plenty of potential for reducing particulate matter emissions in road transport. That is why companies are encouraged to make the transition to environmentally-friendly motor technologies or a combination of road transport with rail transport, inland shipping or pipelines.

The “Clean air” campaign in the port promotes the greening of passenger vehicles and trucks.

Companies take clear air initiatives, by searching for alternatives for fossil fuel combustion. Some inspiration:

  • A public fuel station for LNG and CNG by ADPO.
  • Several companies have electric vehicle charging points.
  • Transport Joosen reviewed the number of empty journeys of its trucks and decided to move to a more central location in the port area. The company also encourages its employees to be safe and ecological drivers.
  • Van Moer Logistics replaced its trucks and forklifts with more environmentally-friendly alternatives. It facilitated the transition from road transport to inland navigation for its customer Umicore.
  • DP World uses eight hybrid straddle carriers, reducing fuel consumption by 40% and CO2 emissions by 50 tons per annum. The Antwerp Port Authority subsidised half of these straddle carriers.

Lineas, Group GTS, Universal Express, Zuidnatie and Ahlers made similar switches. There too the modal shift in employee and goods transport is apparent.  

Does your company also wish to become an ambassador of the port authority’s joint clean air effort? Contact us with your question or idea.

Sustainable Development Goals Port of Antwerp