Shipping Container Lifespan: What’s the full lifespan of a shipping container?

Shipping containers are typically built for the sea to withstand the harshest conditions. They are made of high grade steel and are stackable on top of one another on a cargo ship. Although it is estimated to last around 10 to 12 years, with a valid safety plate, or a CSC plate, it is definitely not its maximum lifespan. If it were well maintained, shipping containers can last in excess of 35 years.  The extensive length of a shipping container lifespan allows shipping containers to be used for multiple purposes way past its seaworthiness.

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Out of 16 million shipping containers in the world, only 6 million are used for shipping purposes. 11 million and more shipping containers and cargo containers are therefore used for other purposes. Shipping containers are typically reused and re-purposed for commercial or residential uses.  This is because cargo containers are high grade, with a durable steel exterior. It being able to be stacked on top of one another also make them space efficient. They are also a more sustainable choice for storage and residential spaces. For instance, after 10 to 12 years, the shipping container is converted into a storage container or a temporary cold room for reefer containers or converted in an office or toilet containers. 

A shipping container lifespan depends on how the container is kept and where it is kept. If it were stored in wetter, saltier climates, especially if the paint were to wear off, rust will develop which can potentially lead to long term structural problems. However, if it were not in heavy use, shipping containers can last between 25-30 years without any maintenance. Homeowners who repurpose shipping containers which are well treated and made for use in construction even say that containers can last well over 50 years. 

The Different Uses of Shipping Containers 

Shipping containers are commonly used for the following ways after being repurposed for both residential and commercial use.

1) Refrigerated storage units

Reefer containers are temperature controlled portable shipping containers. They are used for inter-modal freight transportation. As its name suggests, they can carry temperature sensitive items, mainly perishables across the sea. However, reefer containers are increasingly needed even in the business and household setting. This is because reefer containers can either keep perishable items warm or cool and can control a wide range of temperatures, which make them become increasingly in demand. Also, reefer containers enable versatile airflow throughout the container so that the items inside are kept at their ideal temperature to keep them warm, frozen or chilled. They are even available for rent for commercial and residential needs such as for wholesalers, manufacturers who need to ship perishable goods long distances, healthcare facilities to store medicines and vaccines, retail shops who sell items that require climate-controlled environments like plants, and more. 

2) Commercial or Residential Storage

Cargo containers can be transformed into a storage container for businesses that need extra spaces for limited periods of time and come in a variety of sizes. They can be customised according to the needs of the business, such as by adding doors, flooring, locking mechanisms, wheels for transportability, shelving and additional storage if needed. 

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3) Offices

Shipping container offices are versatile and sustainable. They give businesses the option to build workspace at lower costs or can work as a temporary office space.

Why repurpose shipping containers?

Steel is one of the most recyclable materials in the world, and reusing shipping containers helps the environment because it prevents the use of wasteful materials like cement and concrete that cause damage to the most fertile layer of the earth. In fact, repurposing shipping containers can save around 4000 kilograms of steel!

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Extending the lifespan of shipping containers

There are different ways to maximise the shipping container lifespan.

Firstly, if one were to repurpose shipping containers, it is advisable to keep the coat of paint on the shipping container to prevent it from rusting.

Next, as moisture can be detrimental to shipping containers, it is important to mount the container onto wooden blocks to prevent moisture from being trapped underneath the shipping container.

Also, the container needs to be well ventilated to ensure that moisture does not damage the sides of the container. 

The Versatility of Shipping Containers

Shipping containers, if repurposed and well maintained properly can be used in different ways. Not only is it better for the environment, using shipping containers for functions such as reefer containers or a temporary cold room for perishables or for offices can truly maximise the potential of shipping containers. 

If you would like to buy/rent container/shipping containers, explore the feasibility of using repurposed shipping containers for your premises, feel free to speak to us today.


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