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Friday Fun Fact #5: At any time, 20 million containers are crossing the seas

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Updated on 09 Jan 2024
2 min read
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Happy Friday! Welcome to our fifth Friday Fun Fact as part of our series on fascinating facts about the shipping industry! Last week, we told you that ocean freight is a greener form of transport compared to trucks and planes. We’ve also told you about the mind-blowing prices of constructing a ship and the rate of container inspection worldwide. Today, we delve into the figures behind shipping containers!


Moving containers


Did you know that at any given time, there are 20 million containers making their way across the seas? It seems like an astoundingly high figure. But consider this: nearly everything is transported by sea these days. In fact, shipping contributes to 90% of world trade! The volume of goods traded by sea has quadrupled since 1970 - and continues to grow! Plus, with the trend of megaships, it sure looks like we can expect more containers in our seas!

But as the number of containers grows, so does the risk of losing containers. According to the World Shipping Council (WSC), carriers lose nearly 1,700 containers at sea every year, representing a 66% increase over the past five years. That includes losses due to catastrophic events. But, if you’re fortunate enough to not lose containers, you’re sure to get your money’s worth on these metal boxes; the lifespan of an average shipping container is over 20 years!


To give you a sense of just how much movement a container makes, here’s another interesting fact.**


On average, a container ship travels the distance equivalent to three-quarters of the way to the moon and back in one single year!**


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