If you’re looking for an empty shipping container, read this blog to learn how you can get it at the best price and avoid empty container repositioning with one-way leasing. Or, browse through container offers from 1,700+ vetted sellers globally. 

Did you know that every third container is shipped empty? Containers also get stuck at ports – leading to surpluses in some locations and deficits in others. This container imbalance causes price fluctuations, making it difficult to find empty containers within your budget in your preferred locations. 

But don’t worry; Container xChange is here to help. We’re an online marketplace with 100,000+ containers available in over 2,500 locations globally. We offer a safe platform for you to buy containers easily. 

Want to check out active offers in your region today? Simply enter your location and the container type you want to start browsing offers from 1,700+ vetted sellers right away.

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          New & used empty shipping container for sale 

          If you’re looking for empty cargo containers, one of the first things you’ll need to decide is the container condition that suits your specific needs.

          New shipping containers are suitable if you’re planning to use them for a long time and have to ship expensive cargo. New containers won’t have any container damage and will have the most effective door seals, keeping your goods safe from bad weather during international shipping. On average, the price of a new 40ft container is $3,500. 

          However, you can get new containers for $2,500 in some locations on our platform. 

          If you’re looking for an affordable option, you can choose used shipping containers instead. A used shipping container costs less than a new container because, with time, the container begins to depreciate in condition, value, and cost.

          Yet the demand for used shipping containers is always strong in the market. They are cheaper, and their corten steel-built ensures that the containers are sturdy enough to keep your cargo safe. You can easily buy a used shipping container under $1,000 in good condition on our container marketplace. 

          Empty storage shipping containers for sale 

          If you’re looking for empty containers for storage purposes, used containers are your best choice. They’re perfect for keeping the elements out and keeping your goods safe while providing good storage space. Opt for a cargo-worthy or wind & water-tight container for storage purposes. 

          Get used shipping containers for as low as $700 in some locations on our platform. 

          How much does an empty shipping container cost? 

          The price of an empty shipping container depends on a variety of factors, including the container type, location, and supply and demand in that region.

          Below are the average prices of standard 20ft and 40ft dry containers in 4 popular locations.

          Cargo-worthy shipping container prices

          Location 20ft container (in USD) 40ft container (in USD)
          Europe $1,130 $1,305
          China  $1,270 $1,330
          USA $1,310 $1,530
          India $895 $1,500

          As you can see, prices vary significantly from one location to another. Being part of the shipping industry, it’s important to keep up with price developments in the market. One easy way to do this is with the xChange Insights tool, where you get access to real-time container prices in 180+ locations globally. Check prices over weeks, months, or even years to make sure you’re equipped with the market data you need. 

          Once you have real-time prices, you can choose our trading platform to purchase shipping containers at the most cost-effective prices. Submit your requirements and get multiple offers to choose from. You can compare the prices from different sellers and choose the best one. We don’t charge any commission on sales, so you can be sure that there are no hidden costs. 

          Want to get empty containers in 2,500+ locations from vetted sellers? Simply click the banner below and start browsing container deals now.

          Small banner for demo

          How much does an empty container weigh?

          Here’s how much empty standard 20ft, 40ft, and 40ft high cube containers weigh:

          • 20ft dry container: 2,300kg / 5,071.5 lbs
          • 40ft dry container: 3,750kg / 8,268.8 lbs
          • 40ft high cube dry container: 3,900kg / 8,598 lbs

          Shipping container weights

          Did you know that there are 3 types of shipping container weights? Learn more about the different kinds of shipping container weights here. 

          What happens to empty shipping containers after delivery? 

          Once a container gets discharged at a port, it gets transported to the consignee’s distribution center or warehouse. At this point, the container is emptied. Usually, one of three things happen after this:

          • Empty containers are loaded with a new batch of cargo and shipped to their next destination
          • Containers are shipped to their next destination without cargo as they need to be used in another location
          • Empty units are piled up at ports and depots, awaiting use. This often results in port congestion

          Ideally, all containers moving from one port to another should be carrying cargo. However, out of the 170 million units shipped every year, at least 60 million are empty. 

          This is called empty shipping container repositioning—and not only is it wasteful, but also extremely expensive for shippers, container owners, and carriers. 

          What is empty container repositioning?

          Empty container repositioning refers to moving empty containers from a location with a surplus of containers to a location with a deficit. To put it simply, carriers move empty containers from a port that doesn’t have cargo to a port that doesn’t have containers. 

          To measure container availability at ports, we use a tool called the Container Availability Index (CAx). This monitors the import and export of full container loads (FCLs) to and from major ports around the world. So how does it work?

          • A reading of 0.5 means that an equal number of containers leave and enter a port in the same week
          • A reading of > 0.5 means that more containers have entered — indicating a container surplus
          • A reading of < 0.5 means that more containers have left — indicating a container deficit

          Let’s look at the graph below, which shows CAx values for Shanghai port in 2023.

          CAx Shanghai

          As you can see, CAx values in Shanghai over the past year have stayed consistently below 0.5. This means that there have been more containers leaving the port than arriving throughout the year. Thus, Shanghai Port has faced a consistent container deficit in 2023.

          Now, looking at the data for the Port of Antwerp (below), we see a similar pattern – with one major difference. Between February and July 2023, we see periods where the CAx value was 0.5, meaning that the number of containers entering and leaving the port was equal.

          CAx Antwerp

          This means that for the Port of Antwerp, there were some weeks with no container surplus or deficit issues. So containers didn’t need to be moved in or out of the port empty to accommodate imbalances.

          What causes empty shipping container repositioning?

          Here are some factors that lead to empty container moves:

          Trade imbalances: This is the main cause of empty container repositioning. It happens when exporters send more goods to a specific country than they receive. This leads to empty container pile-ups. 

          Storage costs: Ports and warehouses charge for the storage of containers. However, some ports charge more than others. In cases where container storage is too expensive, units are often repositioned empty to ports with more reasonable fees.

          Poor logistics management: If carriers don’t plan the use of empty containers, or fail to take into account factors such as trade imbalances, storage costs, and time pressures, they can end up with container pile-ups at certain ports. This in turn means unplanned empty container moves.

          Moving containers empty is an expensive affair for carriers and container owners. But what if we told you there’s an easy way to avoid this cost? 

          How to avoid empty shipping container repositioning 

          You can avoid moving containers empty by making them available for one-way leasing. Basically, you add your containers to the xChange leasing platform, and shippers pay a pick-up charge to use your units to ship their goods one way.

          You’re essentially getting someone else to move your container for you, along your desired route. This way, they get to ship their goods and you get to reposition your container. It’s a win-win! 

          Want to know how our members successfully avoid empty shipping container repositioning? Sujan Parik, the managing director of Indus Container Lines has this to say:

          “With xChange, Indus Container Lines is able to approach hundreds of companies with one single request, instead of approaching every company individually.”

          Read the full success story to learn how Indus Container Lines has saved thousands of dollars on empty container repositioning through xChange.

          Buy shipping containers

          Buy empty shipping container at best prices on Container xChange

          Now that you know how to avoid shipping containers empty, it’s time to purchase them at the best prices, worry-free. Here’s how you can use the Container xChange trading platform to buy containers easily. 

          Define your criteria

          First of all, you’ll need to finalize the type of container you want. This will include choosing between a standard shipping container or special equipment, as well as selecting the size that can accommodate your cargo. If you’re moving or storing dry cargo, opt for standard containers, and if it’s special cargo, you may need a reefer, flat rack, or open top, for example. 

          Browse through 100,000+ containers

          Once you’ve got your specifications in mind, hop onto Container xChange to start browsing through 100,000+ containers available on our platform.

          Container trading platform

          Negotiate a deal

          As soon as a good offer catches your eye, reach out to the supplier directly through the platform to negotiate the price, terms, and conditions. You read that right – on xChange there are no middlemen – just you and the partner finalizing the deal together. You can also take the help of xChange Insights to negotiate better prices! 

          Make safe payments

          Once you’ve negotiated the deal, you can pay for your containers directly on the platform using the xChange Wallet. Here, manage all of your finances in one place and make secure payments. 

          And finally, you can even opt for the xChange Insurance Manager to protect your containers against losses or damages and protect your investment. 

          You get all this on a single platform! Ready to start finding empty shipping containers at the best price for your budget?  Schedule a free demo of the platform and learn all about how Container xChange can help you save cash and source quality containers worry-free.

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          Empty shipping container: Common FAQ

          What happens to empty shipping containers?

          Empty shipping containers are either loaded with a new batch of cargo, shipped to their next destination empty or piled up at ports to await their next trip.

          How much does a 40ft shipping container cost?

          The cost of a 40ft shipping container depends on a variety of factors including the condition of the container, location, and current market situation. For a cargo-worthy 40ft unit in the USA, you’ll shell out $1,580, in India $1,500, and in China $1,330.

          What is the price of an empty shipping container?

          The price of an empty shipping container depends on the container’s condition, location and current supply and demand. Generally, you can buy an empty cargo-worthy 20ft container for between $600 and $1,600 and a 40ft for between $1,300 and $2,500.