Modifying Shipping Containers in a Sustainable Way

As the world wakes up to the damage caused by climate change and realises the importance of protecting the planet for future generations, every industry is looking for ways to become more sustainable. And the world of shipping containers is no different!

At Budget Shipping Containers we buy, sell, and rent shipping containers for a wide variety of uses and delivering our service in a more sustainable way is something we work hard to achieve.

Below are some of the sustainable actions we have already taken.

Upcycling shipping containers for alternative use shipping container paintball kiosk with serving hatch

Upcycling – “the act of reusing (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.” – is something we do on a regular basis! We take shipping containers that were originally used for transporting goods across the world, or for goods storage, and we adapt them for a new use entirely!

Shipping containers can be upcycled into offices, sheds, food kiosks, bars, and many more things besides (have a look through some of our blog articles on 1001 alternative uses for shipping containers!)  By upcycling shipping containers in this way, our industry is using an existing item rather than looking to source new materials. This creates less waste and can also use less energy.

Re-using existing materials for container repairs and modifications

When modifying or repairing a shipping container, our yards will often aim to re-use parts and panels from an older or unwanted shipping container before sourcing a new part for the same job.  Quite often there might be an excess container panel that was leftover from a different project that can be used.  This reduces waste and can be more cost-effective for the customer too – it’s a win-win!

Working in a very competitive environment, this approach is very much built-in. If there is a spare part that we can re-use, throwing it away is not only a waste but adds to overall costs and makes us less competitive.

A great example of this is our refurbished Shipping Container Smoking Shelters! Where possible, when refurbishing a container into a smoking shelter we try to re-use any better quality seats that are no longer required from another project.  These would very likely otherwise have been thrown away, so recycling them transforms unnecessary waste into a great new product. With our smoking shelters, the only new parts commonly used are the cigarette bin, and a fresh coat of marine-grade paint, often less than 1% of the finished product by weight.

Using more sustainable materials

Back in April 2017, new industry legislation was introduced requiring all manufacturers of shipping containers in China to switch to using a new waterborne shipping container paint.  This replaced the traditional solvent-based container paints used previously, it was a huge change for container manufacturing but introduced to make container painting a more environmentally friendly process.

There are some other more environmentally friendly materials available when converting shipping containers for new use.  Bamboo is growing in popularity as an alternative flooring material for containers that is both cost-effective, and kinder to the environment thanks to its biodegradable properties. It also causes less impact on deforestation thanks to its abundance and speed of growth when compared to more traditional timber wood from trees.  It is important to note here that researching suppliers is important to ensure that their production methods are not impactful to the environment.

Wood used for our line outs on shipping containers is FSC Certified as standard. Here is a picture of a recent wood delivery to our London depot: Wood delivery toour london depot with FSC certification

Working with used shipping containers is also great for the environment. the Shipping Container itself was manufactured for a life of moving cargo and once this has been done with, its carbon cost can be considered to be spent on its primary use.  Finding a new use for this saves on the energy costs of getting the shipping container melted down and re-processed, and can save on the use for new virgin materials which may be used in any alternative (be it a shed, home office units, smoking canopy, or other structures). Whilst a used shipping container may have come to the end of its viable purpose of shipping cargo around the world, you still have a structure that will last for many years (perhaps decades). Making the most of a used shipping container is a great way to help a move towards a more sustainable setup.

When a used shipping container does finally go beyond viable use for storage or other means, it is also much simpler to recycle. any scrap yard will be happy to take in a shipping container and whilst big and bulky; It is made from a small number of simple materials (over 99% steel and wood) which are much easier to process when compared to a lot of manufactured composite materials used in other manufactured structures.

Changing work and lifestyles to help reduce our footprint

Many industries – including our own – have recently seen a shift to working more flexibly from home.  This change has vastly reduced our carbon footprint with fewer people driving to the office on a daily basis – at Budget Shipping Containers our staff work on a rota basis between the office and home which works extremely well. This has cut commuting miles by 40% – or over 400 road miles per week with the possibility this will be increased soon.

For some, working from home may inspire a need for a new home office – and a shipping container office can offer an ideal alternative to building a costly new extension or out-building at home – it costs much less, it can come finished and ready to go with genuine ‘plug and go’ functionally, and it is much less impactful on the environment thanks to the re-use of existing materials!  You could even go the extra mile and add a wildlife-friendly sedum living roof to your new container office! The bees and butterflies will love it, and it’s very pleasing on the eye too!

Continuing to improve

Absorpole Picture (opened)
Absorpole Moisture Trap

Like many industries, the world of shipping containers is constantly working to seek more sustainable manufacturing methods, and we are always considering how we can offer more sustainable shipping container modifications too. Even with relatively small considerations, like using our non-toxic absorpole moisture traps to help damp proof your shipping container! They are made from 100% recycled plastic and are fully recyclable too. They are now also the first carbon-neutral desiccant in the marketplace.  Every small change is said to make a difference.

We fully admit we are not ‘there’ in terms of being as sustainable as is needed, but we are working hard to improve the ways we work both as a company and as an industry.

If you have any questions about the sustainable shipping container options we have discussed her please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information. offer the UK’s largest online range of shipping containers for sale with a nationwide network of storage and conversion yards and crane equipped delivery vehicles.

If you need a shipping container feel free to browse our online range of shipping containers for sale, which also includes our ranges of flat pack sheds, container canopies and more. You can also call us on freephone 0808 1234 215 any time 9am – 5pm weekdays and our team will be happy to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, you can use our online shipping container quote form or request a telephone callback. In both cases we aim to get back to you within 1-2 working hours (may take longer for more detailed quotes).


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