Pros and Cons of Re-using Shipping Containers - Global Trade Magazine
  September 30th, 2020 | Written by

Pros and Cons of Re-using Shipping Containers

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  • You can save about 3500 kilograms of steel by reusing just one shipping container.
  • It can't be denied that there are both advantages and disadvantages of reusing shipping containers.
  • If you plan on repurposing shipping containers, you need to be ready for the fact that they require a lot of maintenance

If you keep up to date with the latest worldwide architectural trends, you must know that a lot of fuss has been made over old shipping containers. These days, they aren’t just discarded after their expected life is over. Instead, people turn them into houses, storage units, coffee shops, restaurants – you name it. You have to admit how crafty this is for those who want to start a business amid a global crisis. However, it can’t be denied that there are both advantages and disadvantages of reusing shipping containers. I would like to cover the basic ones, in case you are pondering about giving an old shipping container a new life.

Save your time and money

Building a home from scratch (or any other structure that provides shelter) is not only an expensive project – it is also a time-consuming one. Anyone who has ever been in the situation to go through the entire construction process will be able to give you first-hand insight into all the difficulties ahead. The good thing is that most of those time and money-related problems can be solved by repurposing shipping containers.

Not only are they very affordable, but you can also build them incredibly quickly: you stick them together like Lego pieces. An added benefit is that you can easily move them to a new location. After all, that is their original purpose. This certainly comes in handy in the fast-paced world we live in – you never know where you might end up.

Shipping containers are durable

As you already know, shipping containers are built to sustain all the challenges of maritime shipping. The ocean can certainly be rough at times, leading manufacturers to build extremely durable units. Compared to cement units, shipping containers are lightweight since they have a steel structure. All of this leads to a much more resilient unit against earthquakes – a feature you surely want your home or business property to have.

Apart from being safe, one has to admit that a structure made by putting together a couple of shipping containers does look contemporary and unique. Talk about a great way to have a safe yet aesthetically-pleasing home at the same time.

Protect the environment by reusing shipping containers

It’s quite simple to see how you protect the environment by repurposing shipping containers. Did you know that you can save about 3500 kilograms of steel by reusing just one shipping container? Now imagine how much you save by using a couple of them. Moreover, by turning a plethora of shipping containers into a building, you can prevent the use of brick and cement for the new structure. Knowing that cement is one of the biggest sources of CO2, one of nature’s biggest enemies, gives you an additional reason to reuse old containers.

The temperature inside a container can be a problem

It’s impossible to talk about the biggest cons of reusing shipping containers without mentioning the difficulties of controlling the temperature inside. Since containers are made of steel, they can very easily absorb both heat and cold. So if you are thinking about starting a new business or building a home entirely out of shipping containers, you will need to invest in insulation. Otherwise, you could be facing incredibly low temperatures in the winter and extreme heat in the summer. And those are two extremes you definitely don’t need to experience.

The possibility of rust and corrosion

If you plan on repurposing old shipping containers, you need to be ready for the fact that they require a lot of maintenance. They are not corrosion or rust-proof and they do best in moderate climate conditions. If you live in a dry area with very little rainfall, you live in the perfect place to avoid the problems mentioned above. But if you don’t, we suggest you prepare for the fact that rust and corrosion might appear sooner rather than later.

Be aware of toxic exposure when repurposing

Many shipping containers will need to be exposed to multiple insecticides to meet the global import and export regulations and procedures. If you plan on residing or starting a business inside such containers, you might face toxic exposure. Since you don’t want to risk your health and that of others, I strongly suggest you remove the container’s wooden floor. Also, cover the inside surface with bare metal, which you should later cover with non-toxic paint.

Whether you decide that reusing shipping containers is the right move for you is your decision. I wanted to familiarize you with both the benefits and the disadvantages of doing so. If you don’t mind putting a bit of extra maintenance into the process, repurposing a container is a great idea. Otherwise, you might do better by going down the traditional route.

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Julia Richards is the owner of a small business with a degree in finance and accounting. Apart from being a successful business owner with 15 years of experience, Julia also enjoys working as a freelance writer on a variety of different topics and a number of websites, including Zippy Shell of Greater Philadelphia. Her passion is helping young entrepreneurs surpass the challenges of the business market, as she has been doing for over a decade. Julia resides in Seattle with her husband, two kids, and a family dog.