2 September 2022

Are Shipping Containers Sustainable?

Are Shipping Containers Sustainable?

The sustainability of shipping containers is not often the first thing one would consider when needing transporting huge cargo – in fact, it’s hard to imagine that these massive steel boxes could be sustainable in the first place. Oceanbox takes a look at just how true that is.

Are shipping containers sustainable?
They may not look beautiful, but shipping containers are manufactured to the very highest quality standards. They need to be robust and durable, able to withstand the very roughest of sea conditions. Their design and manufacture means that shipping containers have an average lifespan of 25 years – imagine how many thousands of miles just one shipping container travels in its working lifetime and the variety of cargo it will carry. This inherent longevity helps ensure greater sustainability of shipping containers, overall. If containers were seaworthy for only a couple of years it would be a very different story. So many other products are poorly manufactured in response to consumer demand for cheap prices and are rendered useless after a very short time of use – it has created throwaway societies all over the world. It’s a real positive that structures so big as shipping containers are so durable and don’t contribute to the global problem of waste. There is a saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ – shipping containers defy that concept.

Life beyond transporting cargo
Even better, the life of a shipping container doesn’t end once it’s no longer considered suitable for its original use. Containers are widely used for a plethora of other purposes and, as an industry, we don’t mind giving ourselves a clap on the back for enjoying a very successful market for second-hand shipping containers. Long used as storage within industries such as construction and oil and gas, containers are increasingly used within more domestic settings. From using a container as a home office to creating actual homes and hotels, shipping containers are incredibly versatile. Their relatively low cost to purchase, and ease of relocation, also creates cost-effective solutions to problems such as providing shelters in disaster areas, field hospitals, even school classrooms. The possibilities to reuse shipping containers is endless and this makes them even more sustainable.

How the shipping industry is responding to sustainability
Like other industries, the shipping industry has to tackle environmental issues responsibly. Cargo transported by sea is often a more sustainable method of transport than by air, but the industry still has to work hard to reduce its environmental footprint – not just for the industry itself, but for every single customer in order to satisfy their need for environmental accountability. Business is not just about efficiency and reliability, after all.

Developments in ship design that makes vessels more fuel efficient, investment in clean energy and the design of propellers and rudders that aren’t damaging to the marine environment have been underway for some time now.

And we endeavour to play our part in creating a more sustainable industry. At Oceanbox we work with our customers to optimise routes of travel for cargo. And, perhaps the biggest contribution of all, our one-way leasing service ensures there are no unnecessary journeys – we don’t believe in empty repositioning. Further to that, our global network means the right container is never far away from a customer’s required point of collection.

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