Consider the number of shipping containers that are used around the world every day. How many would you suppose that is? Hundreds? Thousands? There are actually over 17 million shipping containers used around the world right now. More containers continue to be made each day, but what happens to them once they have served their function? Most of the time, the containers are simply reused for their intended purpose; however, occasionally shipping containers are damaged, outdated, or worn from overuse. What happens to them when they’re no longer used for shipping valuable products?
A great many shipping containers are recycled. Corrugated cardboard, one of the most common materials used in shipping, is highly sought after in the recycling industry. It has low contaminants and the recovery rate for recycling is near 90%.
Cardboard isn’t the only product being recycled. Metal shipping containers and many kinds of plastic can be melted down to be reused for a multitude of purposes, everything from creating new containers to creating products for the home and community.
Some areas have been getting very creative with their reuse of shipping containers. Environmentally-minded people looking for cost-effective solutions have repurposed large shipping containers into efficient housing. An unused car park in Hong Kong was recently redesigned into an education center using bamboo and unused shipping containers. The Container Bar in Austin, Texas has been constructed from seven large-volume shipping containers. Not only has this reused existing materials, but it also creates a very unique and economical space.
Whether your containers are being taken to a recycling plant, reused for the same original function, or being repurposed in a more unique fashion, each of us must make an effort to ensure that shipping containers are being recycled in an environmentally friendly manner.