Posted by Tom Fitz
Tom Fitz
Tom utilizes over eighteen years of manufacturing experience to help companies c
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on Tuesday, 13 December 2011
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Destiny of a Shipping Container

Finding Innovative Alternatives Rather Than Junking the Steel Containers

Each year more than 10 million shipping containers arrive in the United States ports, with more than 3 million being left to rust in salvage yards. The excess inventory results from the trade imbalance with China in which our country continues to import more material goods than export. Although stackable, the containers are typically either twenty or forty feet in length and take up significant amounts of space in salvage yards, landfills, or whatever alternate dumping grounds are being used to amass the boxes.

Where There's A Will, There's A Way

Some companies have taken the opportunity to turn the excess containers into something more than boxes left to rust in salvage yards. Starbucks recently shared details about a Seattle-area store about to open that is made mostly from four upcycled shipping containers. These boxes were previously used to transport its tea and coffee from abroad. Although going against corporate expansion strategies, the prototype will serve as a take-out only store with more to follow based on the success of the concept.

Transformed Containers = Affordable Living

Flagler College Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) in partnership with LOCI Design have initiated a project called Containers for a Cause, which seeks to transform some of the millions of discarded shipping containers into affordable housing. A prototype was recently unveiled in St. Augustine this past Friday to mixed reviews. The cozy 320 square foot modern living space featured wood floors, bright artwork, a small living room and dining table, three-quarter bath, and master bedroom.

The cost of converting a shipping container, including labor, into a home is about $15,000. In a factory setting, workers could produce renovated containers in a few weeks. If you ask me, this seems like a cost-effective and viable option to provide shelter for the less fortunate citizens of this great country. In addition to affordable houses, the team expressed how the stackable containers can be transformed into additional living spaces, an office and a laboratory.

Early Case of Container Re-Use

In October 2010 Clif Bar & Company unveiled a new headquarters that repurposed materials from shipping containers during its construction. The 115,000 square-foot facility also features a smart solar array to supply nearly all of the building's electricity needs.

So there you have it, three different, yet equally intriguing cases of companies turning potential scrap into gold. These creations aren't dreamed up by NASA scientists. You don't need an advanced engineering or architecture degree to be innovative. All it takes is some focus and imagination. The easy choice will be to continue sending materials to landfills and scrap yards. The environmentally focused methodology will be to find another use for an item once you've deemed it has reached its end of life.