A lot of the world’s freight is delivered by ocean, and massive sea vessels carry endless cargo inside steel shipping containers. Many people have seen images of such shipping containers before. They are huge steel boxes, often painted red, white, or blue, and they can hold a lot of cargo. Such containers are central to modern shipping, but it should be noted that not all current shipping containers are being used. Over half of them have been retired and are laying around, and many people see them as a resource to be used. Such boxes can be melted down for steel, or these shipping containers can be repurposed into something new. A mobile office can be made out of such a shipping container, for example, or such storage containers can be made into coffee shops, fast food restaurants, or even tiny homes. This is often a great way to remove unused steel containers from storage and provide ready-made frames for new buildings. What is there to know about these metal boxes?
On Steel Shipping Containers
Nearly half of all steel shipping containers are owned by shipping lines, and they are primarily build in China and used around the world. They can cover a lot of distance for their freight work; in one year, an average shipping container will travel a distance equal to 75 % of the way to the moon and back. Right now, nearly 17 million such containers in circulation around the world, with nearly five million currently at work delivering goods. They can last nearly 20 years with good maintenance, and they also tend to be large. Some of the largest can be 1,300 feet long, and even the smaller ones can carry may tons of cargo. However, sometimes they are lost at sea, and many others are simply being held in storage, not doing any work at all. Some such containers are practically thrown away as trash, but they don’t have to be waste material for long. They can be reclaimed for many different purposes, and people can get creative with these boxes.
Reusing Shipping Containers
For years, Americans have reused old steel shipping containers to form small and often portable buildings. This is convenient and efficient work because it gets rid of bulky waste and it also provides a ready-made frame for making a new building. Sometimes, these steel shipping containers can simply be melted down for steel, and steel stands as among the most recycled materials on the planet. But in other cases, interested parties will keep the steel box together and create a building with it.
Some innovators on the American West Coast pioneered this idea, opening coffee shops and Taco Bell locations made out of old steel shipping containers. These buildings can be fully furnished and function just like any other, but with the convenience of the walls, floor, and ceiling being ready-made. Such a shipping container can have openings for windows and utilities cut into it, and the box can be fully furnished with everything that a fast food restaurant of coffee shop may need. Wall paneling can be set up, along with lighting, gas and water and electric utilities, and a floor. And beyond that, cookware can be set up in a small kitchen, along with tables and chairs if there is enough room for dining in. This can be done for fast food or coffee shops, but such a process can also be used for small offices or even homes.
There is a market for mobile offices, and converting shipping containers into such offices can be practical work. Construction managers, for example, have need for small offices that can be transported to a construction site and moved away once the project is done. Modular office technology is used for this purpose, but a repurposed steel shipping container can do something similar if so desired. Like with a coffee shop, this mobile office can be furnished with wall coverings and a floor, plus necessary utilities. And the same can be said if a steel container is remade into a small home. Making houses of out these containers can be great for housing projects for needy individuals such as the homeless.