A lot of the world’s trade is done not by plane or truck, but by ship. Large seagoing vessels carry many steel shipping containers on board, and these distinctive steel shipping containers may hold foodstuffs, raw steel, cars, or anything else inside of them. In fact, 95% of the world’s cargo is delivered via ship. However, these steel shipping containers sometimes lie neglected, and many of them are not even being used at all. These 40 foot containers, and especially larger steel shipping containers, are a real waste of materials like that. The good news is that old steel shipping containers can be melted down for steel, and if they are not, then they can be made into shipping container homes, mobile office containers, container pop up shops, and more. Many resource-conscious entrepreneurs are getting their hands on these unused steel shipping containers and giving them new life. How might this work? And what is there to know about steel shipping containers in general?
All About Shipping
Most steel shipping containers are made in China, but most nations around the world today use them for shipping imports and exports of all sorts. Many of these containers are on the smaller side, being 40 to 50 feet long, but the largest of them may be an impressive 1,300 feet long. Just how many steel shipping containers can be found around the world? The total is close to 17 million, but it may be noted that out of all those, only six million are actively in use for trade. The other 11 million are sitting around, unused. A few get lost at sea every year, too.
Those containers are made of steel, which is a widely used resource that must not go to waste. Just one shipping container can be melted down to produce some 3,500 kilograms of steel that can be used for practically anything, and steel is the world’s most heavily recycled material, at 90%. But still, melting down steel shipping containers is not the only option. If they are not melted down, then these old boxes can be repurposed into a variety of small buildings, many of which are completely portable.
Making Use of Old Storage Boxes
One or more old steel shipping containers can be bought and repurposed into something new, and many entrepreneurs have been doing this since the year 2010. Along the west coast a few years ago, several entrepreneurs decided to buy some old steel shipping containers and convert them into fast food restaurants and coffee shops, since those old boxes are a convenient size and shape for such a project. The idea proved a success, and the idea has caught on across the nation.
Many small fast food restaurants and coffee shops have steel shipping containers as their origins. Such a box may have holes cut out for the windows, plus some holes for utilities to pass through. The walls, floor, and ceiling can be fabricated as needed, and lighting fixtures and plumbing can be added, too. Not to mention a counter, cooking hardware, and gas pipes and other utilities to make the kitchen run.
Some of these steel shipping containers can be converted into offices, too, which tend to be mobile. Who needs a mobile office? Construction company managers like to move their offices close to wherever the current construction project is, and a shipping container office is just right for the hob. The box can be fabricated to form a small but comfortable office, and it can be delivered to any construction site with ease. Such offices may have large windows on them, and a wall might be almost entirely windows.
Even houses may have their origins with steel shipping containers. Many parts of the U.S. suffer from housing shortages and homelessness, but fortunately, steel containers can help. One or more such steel shipping containers can be fabricated into a fully furnished and functional house that takes up little room and is easy for a tenant to afford. In some cases (often for novelty), more than one steel shipping box can be melded together to form an even large house, which may have more than one floor. Some boxes will be partially taken apart, then welded together to form a larger structure.