Making Good Use of Storage Containers


A lot of shipping around the world is done by means of steel shipping containers, and these containers are known for being large, colorful metal boxes that are loaded onto ships for transport. Mainly, utilizing storage containers is done by shipping companies who have all sorts of cargo to deliver, and utilizing storage containers means loading them with anything from furniture to foodstuff to cars and more. Many ships across the world’s oceans are utilizing storage containers, but not all of them. Many such containers are retired and sit around in storage, so utilizing storage containers may sometimes fall to creative new owners who have other purposes in mind for them. This can be quite helpful, seeing how these containers are solid steel, ready-made boxes that can be converted to a wide variety of uses. So, utilizing storage containers means being resource-efficient, and many companies and people today highly value resource efficiency. What is there to know about shipping containers today, and what can be made out of them when their shipping careers are over?

On Steel Shipping Containers

These shipping containers are not a rarity; in fact, around 95% of the world’s shipping is done with seagoing vessels, and they nearly always load their cargo with these distinctive colorful metal boxes. Today, some 17 million shipping containers can be found around the world, but in fact not all of them are currently being used as shipping vessels. Around six million of them are being used this way, while the remaining 11 million or so are simply in storage instead. Around 50% of all such containers are owned by shipping lines, and 97% of them are manufactured in China but used all over the world. These containers vary somewhat in in size and shape, but they are all large and capable of housing many goods inside them. They’re hard at work, too: during one year, and average container may travel a distance equal to 75% of a round trip to the moon itself. All of this travel is done across the world’s oceans for import and export work.

Many such containers are retired, however, and are certainly not traveling the world’s oceans on ships. They sit in storage, and many people would agree that this is quite a waste. Sometimes, such containers may be melted down so that their molten steel can be used for other purposes, and steel indeed ranks as among the most rigorously recycled materials in the world. In other cases, though, these shipping containers are ready-made boxes that creative entrepreneurs and builders may use them to form small but efficient new structures, such as housing or fast food restaurants.

Utilizing Storage Containers

Some shipping containers are simply melted down for their steel, while others can be converted into something new. These boxes are strong and solid, so they can be placed wherever a building would go and can be refurnished into a small house or even a coffee shop or a small restaurant. This idea has already been pioneered on the American West Coast, and a number of Starbucks and Taco Bell locations were opened as shipping container buildings. This may involve cutting out holes for windows and utilities such as pipes and electrical cords, then furnishing the container with a new floor, fabricated walls, lighting, a counter and cash register, a small kitchen, window glass, and more. When this work is completed, a container building may hardly even resemble a shipping container aside from its size and dimensions, and this is helpful for making a small and budget-friendly structure.

Fast food isn’t the only option. Small, portable offices may be built out of these containers as well, and this may be helpful for workers who need portable offices. Construction managers, for example, like to have mobile offices that can be moved to new construction sites. And of course, many cities and towns are addressing housing shortages by making use of shipping containers. Many needy American families may get new, compact housing when these containers are re-purposed and refurnished into a house, and they don’t even take up a lot of space. This makes for a space-friendly, resource-efficient humanitarian effort. Such container houses are often quite luxurious and comfortable, considering their origins.


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