What to Do With Old Steel Containers


How are goods delivered around the world? A lot of items are shipped on board semi trucks or in cargo planes, but that is not the only option. A lot of the world’s cargo is delivered on board large ships, and those ships are loaded with countless steel shipping containers. These may range from 40 foot containers to massive steel boxes that can carry many tons of cargo at once, and anything can be placed in them, from foodstuffs to cars to furniture and medical supplies. Whatever the cargo, these boxes are easy to spot, being long metal containers painted a single color and with hatches on their ends. Most Americans have seen them in person, or in film and TV before. They are often associated with trade docks, and for good reason. But what about recycling them? These steel shipping containers are useful for trade, but not all of them are currently in use. That’s a lot of metal going to waste, but fortunately, many entrepreneurs have found ways to give these steel shipping containers a new life.

Steel Container Basics

Today around the world, an estimated total of 17 million steel shipping containers exist, but not all are actively being used to ship cargo around the world. Somewhere between five and six million of them are in use, and this means that around 10-11 million more, a majority of them, are just sitting around. That is a real waste, and at the very least, those steel shipping containers can be melted down to provide steel. Steel ranks among the most rigorously recycled materials in the world, and a single steel shipping container may yield around 3,500 kilograms (around two tons) of raw steel. Some of the largest steel shipping containers are around 1,300 feet long and 180 feet in width, and if they’re not used, that’s a lot of steel that can be recycled. But this is not the only option. Unused steel shipping containers can be reclaimed and put to use in construction, and the possibilities are varied. Why not make a building out of them?

Shipping Containers for Sale

For a few years now, American entrepreneurs have been buying these unused steel boxes, and putting them to good use to benefit people. If those boxes aren’t simply melted down for raw steel, they can be molded into a small building, and this has been done since the early 2010s, if not sooner. Around that time, some entrepreneurs on the West Coast bought a few steel shipping containers and converted them into coffee shops and fast food restaurants. This proved to be a success, and now steel shipping containers are converted into buildings all over the nation, and in far greater numbers.

To turn an old steel box into a fast food restaurant, the box is placed in the desired location, and holes can be cut into it for windows, a door, and to allow utility cables and pipes to enter the building. The interior will be fully fabricated, from wall surfaces to lighting to a counter and a cash register, and a fully functional kitchen will be set up, too. Now, the facility is ready for use, and this can prove to be a resource-friendly novelty. The same can be done for coffee shops, or any other small shop.

Housing can also be made when steel shipping containers are involved. To fix housing shortages, some steel shipping containers can be bought, and then fully fabricated into small but comfortable houses that may rival conventional houses in amenities and style. Many of these houses can be found today, and some may be quite large. It is possible to assemble several steel boxes at once and cut apart their walls just right to make a house composed of four or more. Some of these steel container houses may be two stories high.

Lastly, construction companies may buy a steel container and fabricate it into an office. Why? Such companies like to use small, mobile offices that can be positioned near a construction site, and a steel container is the right size and strength for such a mobile office. Those offices may have large windows, furniture, carpeting, and more.

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