You may have heard about the current surplus of used shipping containers. Were you aware that these 40 foot shipping containers can be purchased and modified for a variety of purposes? After receiving modifications, these containers can be used for pop-up stores, mobile offices, and other work spaces such as machine shops and artist studios.
A Few Details About Shipping Industry Containers
Container ships, especially some of the world’s largest, can be as long as 1,330 feet with a maximum width of 180 feet. These ships are designed and built to carry cargo. As a result, they are able to store and transport millions of containers full of various materials, supplies, and other products throughout the world.
Even though it costs more to transport goods via ship, 95% of the world’s cargo continues to be moved in this manner. Given the high volume of cargo that can be transported by ship, it makes financial sense to continue this practice.
When transporting shoes, for example, a standard TEU container is able to hold about 3,500 boxes of shoes. If a 40 foot high cube is used, then over 8,000 boxes of shoes can be transported. Since a substantial number of these storage containers can fit on a cargo ship, this further increases the amount of shoes that can be carried to various ports throughout the world.
In any given year, about 675 shipping containers are lost at sea. Currently, however, there are more than 17 million of these containers in circulation around the globe. Since just 5 million of these are being actively used, according to Billie Box, there is a surplus of used shipping containers available for repurposing.
The Benefits of Recycling and Up-Cycling Shipping Containers
Since there are 11 million shipping containers that aren’t being used, these could be converted into tiny homes for people in the United States and abroad. In areas that are experiencing a shortage of housing, these modified storage containers could provide a much-needed home.
Furthermore, since these houses cost less to construct, low-income individuals, families, and the homeless could benefit from their construction. Tiny homes made from converted storage containers could also be used to provide shelter for people living and working in areas experiencing both natural and manmade disasters.
Another advantage of repurposing steel shipping containers is that this definitely constitutes recycling. About 3,500 kilograms of steel is being reused rather than going to waste or being abandoned in shipyards and other industrial areas.
Traditional building materials are also being conserved, such as wood, bricks and mortar. This, too, reduces the usual costs associated with constructing a home, office, or another type of work space.
According to Container Auction, when these containers receive regular maintenance and are otherwise properly cared for, they can usually last for 20 years.