The shipping container has been around for over six decades so it is easy to overlook the impact that it has had on the world we live in today, an impact that some would argue catalysed global trade as we know it today.
Before the shipping container trade expenses were astronomical due to the logistical nightmare of unloading and reloading goods at every point of departure. A man named Malcolm Maclean saw this inefficiency which led him to innovate the shipping container. These containers could be loaded once, sealed and then only unloaded at their final destination.
Maclean faced resistance from the moguls of the global trade and logistics industries but pushed on regardless. After much frustration, Maclean was at last able to move the needle a little through effectively supplying the US troops in Vietnam. This commanded the global trade networks attention and resulted in an economic and geographic transformation all over the world.
Millions of containers are now discarded because the cost to transport the empty containers back to their destination is too great which has resulted in them being stacked next to our freeways as advertising billboards or repurposed into minimalist living spaces, the odd hipster coffee joint and even classrooms and offices.
In 2008 Mark Levinson’s book ‘The Box’ was published which detailed the story of the shipping container. It received numerous awards with Bill Gates even listing it as one of his most gifted books ever.