Over 90% of all non-bulk cargo carried worldwide gets transported in shipping containers, which have to be one of the world’s most successful pieces of design. However, there is one obvious flaw – most get sent back empty, resulting in thousands of boxes of air being transported across the globe on CO2 emitting boats.
It was this flaw that inspired Cargoshell, proclaimed by it’s Dutch creators as ‘The Greatest Container Innovation Since 1957’. Put simply, this is a standard sized shipping container which collapses to one-quarter of its size when empty. Because of this, more empty containers can be fitted on boats, meaning less trips and less carbon emissions. Made from composite materials instead of steel, the Cargoshell weighs 25% less than a standard shipping container, further reducing carbon emissions. Because of its collapsible design, the door rolls upwards instead of opening outwards, meaning containers can be stacked closer together, increasing capacity and further improving the environmental efficiency of the product.
According to the Cargoshell website:
If all steel containers will be replaced by Cargoshells, the amount of transport kilometers will decrease by 75%. In the area of the Port of Rotterdam alone, this will result in reduction of 10,000 transportations on a yearly base. This means 250 trucks less on the road during rush hours every day.
And these environmental benefits also translate into financial savings, with less travel kilometers equalling less expense for shipping firms.
However, despite all its innovations, environmental benefits, and potential financial savings, the Cargoshell doesn’t make complete business sense. At around three times the cost of a standard shipping container, and in an industry that has seen little innovation ‘since 1957’, it may struggle to achieve mass adoption.