How Old Steel Shipping Containers Can Be Reused


Steel shipping containers are used by the world’s carrier companies who use boats to transport cargo, and these are simply large steel boxes for holding items. Many millions of them exist around the world today and are being put to good use, but just as many steel shipping containers have been retired and are sitting around, not doing any good. Instead of languishing as useless metal, steel shipping containers may be purchased and converted into small buildings, which can not only clear out wasted space but also provide a convenient and cost-friendly way to make a small building, such as shipping container homes, a steel container pop up shop, and more. Specialty projects can be made easy when steel shipping containers are re-purposed into something new, and used storage containers for sale may be found all across North America. What to do with old steel shipping containers?

About Steel Shipping Containers

What is there to know about steel shipping boxes to begin with? There are certainly many of them; nearly 17 million are currently in circulation around the world, and and nearly five million of them are currently being used. All together, they make nearly 200 million trips around the world, according to some sources. After all, nearly 95% of the world’s cargo travels by ship at some point, and they can be loaded onto these seagoing vessels in steel shipping boxes. Such transport is often most efficient when larger volume ships are used with larger numbers of such steel boxes on board to navigate the world’s ocean-based trade routes. Around 50% of these steel containers are owned by shipping lines, and nearly 97% of them are constructed in China, but only about 2-10% of them are actually inspected. These boxes vary in size, and one of the biggest ones are over 1,300 feet long, which is the distance around an Olympic running track and they have a maximum width of 180 feet or so. Many of these boxes are at work shipping cargo around the world, but many other are retired and simply idle in large lots around the world, when they could instead be either melted down or put to other uses. What can a shipping box do when given a new life?

Reuse a Steel Box

At the very least, a steel shipping container no longer being used can be melted down for steel, and a typical recycled shipping container might yield as much as 3,500 kilograms of steel, which can be used in many other industries. But if the box is kept intact, it can instead be bought by those who would like to convert them into small homes or shops, such as pop-up fast food restaurants or coffee shops, which have proven popular. Such boxes are convenient for those who need just a small building for their premises, and this can save a lot of money and trouble by using that box as a frame for the new building. In the early 2000s, this concept was tested with Taco Bell locations and Starbucks along the West Coast, and now, the idea has fully taken off.

A shipping container can have utilities such as electrical wiring, water, and even natural gas built into it once contractors are hired to convert the box into a building, and the inside and outside alike can be fabricated to form a fully functional small home, fast food restaurant, or coffee shop, and there should be room for ovens, stoves, sinks, and more, along with a counter for the cash register and even seating for guests on the opposite wall, if the box is big enough. Early in the conversion process, windows can be cut out of the walls if the building is being designed so that patrons can be seated, and this can make for a small but comfortable building for business. For housing solutions, these shipping containers can be converted into homes when larger construction projects might be too expensive or difficult for a community. Such a housing project may also be launched to help curb rates of homelessness or other situations where people have trouble getting affordable housing.

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