Did you know that of the 20 million shipping containers that are scattered around the globe, just five or six million of them are actually being used for transport or any other practical usage? This leaves over 13 million containers available for innovative uses in a world where a focus on sustainability and the environment is pushing more companies to think twice before disposing.
Widely accepted as building elements, both 40-foot and 20-foot shipping containers are a sturdy (they’re meant to be stacked 7-high on an oceangoing vessel after all!) metal alternative to traditional construction.
Our team in Miami, Florida went on a fact-finding mission to learn more about what happens when these containers are upcycled for new use. This led them to Little River Box Co. Whether it’s building a pop-up retail store, restaurant, bar, or multi-family home, the team at Little River Box Co., focuses on innovative and functional design that fulfills a real need.
“Shipping containers played a major part in reshaping global trade, so how cool is it that they’re now playing a part in reinventing ‘local’ trade; supporting business and communities?” asks Gayle Zalduondo, LRBC’s founding partner. So, the DB Schenker team toured the Little River Box Co. where there were yoga studios and homes being built. They finish up their visit at the Charcoal Garden Bar + Grill restaurant, which is made from six containers. This location went from an empty lot to a full-service restaurant in just a few weeks.
Paul Koeppen, Director Sales Planning, RDB Schenker Region Americas said, “It’s very refreshing to see the upcycling measures being taken to ensure that these containers are used fully whether through recycling of the steel or through creating sustainable homes and environments.”
Turning shipping containers into functional abodes and business space comes with challenges: educating and enlightening the building authorities. Once officials see that these creative, functional structures are beautiful and aren’t just the ‘lowest common denominator’ for business owners and residents, they start to change their minds.
Often, it’s the cultural creative who is buying, working in, and/or living in these sustainable spaces and leading the way, which are particularly good for growing communities where entrepreneurs and retailers prefer smaller footprints.
Allen Lau, Quality & Sustainability Specialist at DB Schenker said, “I am fascinated by how the logistics industry can reduce, reuse, and recycle. Refurbishing old shipping containers into modern-looking spaces for local businesses is a creative and economical solution.”