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Are Shipping Containers Reused?

To answer the question – yes! Shipping containers are typically reused and re-purposed for a variety of commercial and residential needs.

Shipping containers are originally used as intermodal storage containers that efficiently transport large, bulky, and heavy cargo overseas. They are made of high-grade steel and conveniently stack on a cargo ship during overseas transport. There are 16 million shipping containers in circulation in the world, and only 6 million are being used for overseas transport. 

That means 11 million or more shipping containers are being used for other reasons! Due to their high-grade, durable steel exterior, space-efficiency, cost-efficiency, and sustainability, they make great storage spaces, building materials, and more. Many businesses and residential customers today rent re-used shipping containers for their specific storage needs.

Related: Types of Shipping Containers

Why are shipping containers reused?


Since shipping containers are made of high-grade, wind and water-tight steel, they are extremely durable. Shipping containers are built to withstand the harshest weather conditions, frequent transportation, and more. They are also extremely safe due to their steel exterior and help to prevent theft and boost security. This makes shipping containers ideal to be reused many times over.

Customization/Modification Options

Shipping containers are convenient to reuse because they are structured to accommodate tons of modifications and customizations. No matter if you have commercial or residential needs, the steel in shipping containers can be modified and repurposed can support countless purposes. For instance, shipping containers can be stacked and combined in different ways to create larger spaces. They can also support interior customizations like lighting and electricity, plumbing, air conditioning, ventilation, custom shelving, and much more.


Since they are built to be transported overseas, shipping containers are built to be very mobile and portable. For instance, you can have a used shipping container delivered to your location on a flatbed truck and use it for just about any purpose. If you need to move the shipping container to another location or you no longer need the container, it can be easily relocated or removed and reused again.


Shipping containers are compact and easy to move. However, they still provide tons of interior space! Shipping containers come in standard lengths of 10 feet, 20 feet, and 40 feet but some are even larger. They can provide up to 1,000 square feet of space inside! Plus, as mentioned, they can be combined and stacked horizontally or vertically which can easily multiply your space.


One of the main reasons it’s so appealing to reuse a shipping container is because they are so cost-efficient. A reused container can cost as little as $1,000 to purchase and can last you as many as 30 years! Even a brand new, unused shipping container is as inexpensive as $6,000, and you will be able to use it for years on end. Learn more about shipping container cost based on condition.


Steel is one of the most recyclable materials in the world. Reusing shipping containers as storage or building material prevents the use of more wasteful materials like cement (which is a source of CO2), bricks, and more. In fact, reusing and repurposing a shipping container saves approximately almost 8,000 lbs of steel!

What is the life expectancy of a shipping container?

One of the many reasons shipping containers are reused is because they are durable and have a great life expectancy. Generally, shipping containers can be used for about 15 years and many times longer. For instance, when used to house a commercial operation such as a restaurant or retail store, shipping containers can last as long as 30 years! Other people who use shipping containers to meet other residential and commercial needs such as a workshop or ground-level office have utilized their container for decades.

Take a look at the different shipping container "grades" aka conditions to get a better feel for their lifespans.

The main factor that determines a shipping container’s lifespan is how well it is kept. When maintained well, shipping containers can remain in great condition and reused dozens of times.

How can shipping containers be repurposed?

As mentioned, shipping containers are so often reused because they can be repurposed as so many different types of spaces and structures. They can be used for storage, buildings, work spaces, and much more. Read about some of the common ways shipping containers are repurposed for both residential and commercial needs today.

Learn more

Read about the cost of a shipping container or common ways to repurpose a shipping container for your business. Need a shipping container delivered to your location? Learn about storage container delivery services.

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