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A shipping 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 “intermodal freight container,” a container designed to be moved from one mode of transport to another without unloading and reloading.

The ubiquity and relative cheapness of used intermodal shipping containers meant that architects began to consider them as an alternative to traditional building materials. Used shipping containers were converted for use in housing, and as retail and office spaces.

It has however been pointed out there are problems with recycling shipping containers, that it may not be as ecological friendly or cheap an option as it might appear. The containers may be coated with harmful chemicals such as chromate, phosphorus, and lead-based paints, while its wooden floors may be treated with toxic insecticides, and some cost and effort are involved in modifying containers to make them habitable. Others have noted various issues such as space constraint, insulation, and structural weakness if too much steel is cut out of the containers.

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