Where Do Shipping Containers Come From?
February 28, 2013
Our import-based economy brings over 21,000 shipping containers into the United States each day. The problem – or the solution, depending on your viewpoint – is that it isn’t financially feasible to send the containers back to the country of origin, which is often in Asia or Europe. What to do with these orphaned containers…
Recycling them is not the most efficient use. A new container has about 8000 pounds of steel. To melt this down, it requires 8000kwh of power. To modify them, on the other hand, you need just 5 percent of that. Many containers find their way onto construction sites for storage, and while this is certainly useful, they’re capable of so much more.
Shipping containers vary in size from 20 foot containers to extra-large 53 foot containers. To put this into perspective, that’s a bit larger than the average house size in France. If you put two together, you have a larger-than-average North American home. Container’s primary use is to transport goods from place to place, and from mode of transportation to mode of transportation. From cargo ship, to train, to truck… and now to trade show booth, to house, to office space. Despite having been shipped halfway across the world, most containers remain rigid, sturdy structures, and the possibilities for their re-use are virtually endless.
Our first container came from a local Charlotte trucking company, and as we started experimenting, we quickly realized how sound these things are, and how limitless in possibility. Shipping containers come to us from Hong Kong, Japan, China, France, the UK, Germany, and from other corners of the world. Rather than pay to send them back or melt them down, why not use them to create functional, versatile spaces? Why not use them to reinvent architecture and design in a sustainable way?