When a Cargo Freight Container is brought over from the major manufacturing facilities in Asia and China, often times they are made available for sale after just one Cargo Load, hence the term “One Trip Container”, or they are used to ship materials back and forth from Asia or other countries for years and then retired as a “Used Cargo Freight Container”. In the container sales industry, where typical consumer use is for storage and portable offices, there are a lot of questions from consumers regarding what has been inside these cargo freight containers. Additionally, with the onset of sustainable housing, containers are being used more frequently for living quarters, and the same question is being increasingly scrutinized. With containerized cargo boxes, it can be very difficult to track the history of the contents, however there can be some light shed upon the typical materials that are being carried overseas.

There is a wide range of cargo handled at the shipping line terminals. Depending on the size, weight category and destination. Automobiles are handled at many ports and are usually carried on specialized roll-on, roll-off ships. Break Bulk Cargo is typically material stacked on pallets and lifted into and out of the hold of a vessel by cranes on the dock or aboard the ship itself. The volume of break bulk cargo has declined dramatically worldwide as containerization has grown. A safe and secure way to secure break bulk and freight in containers is by using Dunnage Bags. Bulk Cargo, such as salt, oil, tallow, and scrap metal, is usually defined as commodities that are neither on pallets nor in containers. Bulk cargoes are not handled as individual pieces, the heavy-lift and project cargoes are. Alumina, grain, gypsum, logs and wood chips, for instance, are bulk cargoes. It all boils down to size and weight, when determining what can be transported in a Cargo Freight Container.

A Cargo Freight Container or Ocean Freight Containers are the largest and fastest growing cargo category at most ports worldwide. Containerized cargo includes everything from auto parts, machinery and manufacturing components to shoes and toys to frozen meat and seafood. Project cargo and the Heavy Lift cargo include items like manufacturing equipment, air conditioners, factory components, generators, wind turbines, military equipment, and almost any other oversized or overweight cargo, which is too big or too heavy to fit into a container. A shipping container, or a Cargo Freight Container is a container with strength suitable to withstand shipment, storage, and handling. Shipping containers range from large reusable steel boxes used for intermodal shipments to the ubiquitous corrugated boxes. In the context of international shipping trade, “container” or “shipping container” is virtually synonymous with “standard intermodal container” (a container designed to be moved from one mode of transport to another without unloading and reloading).

The discussion of the contents of the Cargo Freight Container really has come up based on health standard issues. If containerized cargo boxes have had automobile parts inside that have oils, or lubricants within the parts themselves, they can be disrupted during the shipping process, intermodal transit or trucking. When they are off-hired and go on the open market for sale, there can be a smell on the interior or a justified concern about whether or not something including lead based paint, asbestos or any hazardous material for that matter, was inside the container they are now using to store their animals’ food, spending time, or even living.

There are many more examples of and plenty more information regarding the concerns people have for utilizing a used Cargo Freight Container for something where health and safety standards need to be met. It is my personal feeling that, as we move forward into a more eco-friendly society, awareness is being raised around the world as to how things are manufactured, as well as how things are transported. I truly feel it can only get better. As for the old used containers, just step cautiously… Buy “One Trip Containers”, or do what you can to clean the containerized cargo boxes as well as possible if they are going to be used for something that involves long-term physical contact like housing.

Stay posted, as there are many more informative articles on the way regarding Shipping Containers and Containerized Cargo Housing: past, present and future…

Written by Gabe Crane, Container Alliance

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