Storage Containers Transformed Sea Freight and are Now Challenging Conventional Construction Methods

When Malcolm McLean invented storage containers in 1956, he could never have imagined the many innovative ways in which they have been repurposed today. In his day, loading and unloading their cargo cost exporters $5,86 per tonne. After the US trucking company owner introduced his invention, that figure dropped to $0,16. However, while exporters were delighted by this 90% reduction, it didn’t win him any friends among the dock workers who promptly responded with strike action. Ultimately, progress won, and the result was a massive growth in marine freight and much more cash in the previously disgruntled dockers’ pay packets.

While estimates of the total number of these steel storage units vary (some sources suggest as many as 170 million), there are probably 17 million in active service today, but far more are lying idle on docksides or stacked high in container parks. When no longer needed, many used units are sold to other users or for scrap, sometimes only after a few trips. However, there is a growing tendency to repurpose rather than recycle them, and the possibilities appear endless.

Storage Containers Offer so Much More Than Storage Space

Purchase a second-hand, open-top unit, excavate a deep-enough rectangular hole in your garden to accommodate it, and you could have a swimming pool for a fraction of the cost of a conventional installation. Take a 12m dry-storage unit, insulate it, add some windows, lighting, and aircon, and furnish it to create a park home or poolside bar and changing room on a shoestring budget. These are just two of many possible uses for these robust metal boxes. If you can imagine it, it can probably be done, albeit with some professional help. Take a look at two more applications for which a skilled and imaginative engineer can repurpose them:

Housing the Workforce

Construction, mining, and oil-field workers must often remain on-site for weeks, months, or even years. Container conversions are an affordable means to provide temporary or permanent staff accommodation. They also offer the bonus of being readily transportable when required.

Low-Cost Housing

Salt Lake City is home to a six-story apartment block constructed entirely from storage containers. The “Box 500 Apartments” consist of 48 studio units, 18 one-bedroom units, and 17 two-bedroom units built as part of an initiative to provide affordable homes for low-income families.

The Need for Converted Shipping Containers will Grow

Pop-up shops, libraries, clinics, sports facilities, classrooms, and hostels are necessary but costly features of today’s society and will likely remain so. Inevitably, conventional building costs will continue to grow. Have a look at some of the ways how we at Absolute Containers can help you buck this worrying trend.