Around 90% of everything that is purchased has traveled at some stage in a container.
Containerization and the standardization of the size of containers in and around 1970 changed the face of the planet. Before standardization of the container cargo was loaded at 1.3 tonnes per hour. Post 1970 ships were loaded at 30 tonnes per hour. Resistance by dockworkers was crushed, docks rebuilt for container ships, jobs lost but profits were up and suddenly global trade spiraled off the graph.
The 20 ft and 40 ft containers we use today became the standard which is referred to as TEU (Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit) so when a ship carries 15000 TEU that could be 15000 20ft containers or 7500 40ft containers or a combination thereof.
The downside of containers has been the loss of jobs, the upside has been the low price of products and commodities. One can imagine that when a sweater traveling 3000 miles by sea costs 2.5 cents to ship, containerization has cost a lot more jobs than the dock workers. The upside has been the boom in retail and cheap products.
Today there are aprox. 17 million shipping containers in the world, doing more than 200 million trips per year.
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