Mar 17, 2022 - Economy

Foldable shipping containers could ease supply chain woes

Foldable shipping containers being loaded and stacked

Photo courtesy of Staxxon

A company called Staxxon in Montclair, New Jersey, is planning to sell a newfangled shipping container that's "designed to fold in an accordion-style fashion, and shrink to 1/5 the size of a regular container."

Why it matters: Most standard shipping containers return home empty, so if cargo ships can fit more of them on a return journey by collapsing them, it could help ease today's notorious supply chain woes.

  • Using Staxxon, truckers will also be able to transport five times as many empty containers, the company says.

Where it stands: Staxxon's 20-foot units are not on the market yet, but there are other foldable shipping containers out there — most notably from a Dutch company called 4Fold that says its foldable container "saves up to 37% in costs and CO₂."

  • "More than 15 carriers and shippers navigating 60 ports worldwide are testing the Delft, the Netherlands-based company’s environmentally friendly containers that can be folded into a quarter of their volume, taking up less space on trucks, ships and docks," per Bloomberg.
  • Bloomberg quoted Jim Hagemann Snabe, chairman of the giant shipping line A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, who called foldable containers the "dream of the shipping industry" and said that Procter & Gamble was testing them.

The bottom line: "Despite sparking hope among carriers and shippers, higher upfront costs and hesitancy to turn to a new business model have kept foldable containers from becoming mainstream," Bloomberg writes.

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