Empty shipping containers are building blocks of global trade. Read this blog to find out how to buy empty shipping containers at best prices and avoid empty container repositioning. Or, click here to learn how 1500+ companies are buying containers at best prices.

Did you know that every third container shipped around the world is empty? But, even then, getting your hands on empty shipping containers is not easy. This is because containers are often stuck at specific ports – leading to container surplus at some locations and a deficit in others.  

This imbalance of containers causes price fluctuations – making it difficult to find containers that fit your budget in your location. Even more when you are dependent on your local network to source containers for you. 

To help you with these problems, we introduce to you Container xChange, an online container marketplace. Here you can buy empty shipping containers directly from sellers in 2,500+ locations globally. You get container offers from multiple sellers in just a few easy and quick steps. You can then compare prices and buy empty containers in your budget — at no commission

Want to check out active offers in your location? Simply use the public search below by entering your location and container type to browse through multiple offers from vetted sellers! 

Please select a valid location.

New and used empty shipping containers for sale 

One of the first things you need to decide before buying empty shipping containers is the condition of the container you need. If you plan to use containers for a long time (15-20 years), you should opt for a new shipping container. It’s a one-time investment, as these containers last for years. 

A new container promises you prime condition, longevity, and a good resale value as you can always sell it in the second-hand container market. New containers are more expensive than used with the average price for a new 40ft container being $3,000 to $4,500. 

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, you can choose used containers instead. These containers may come with slight dents and damage but they’re perfectly fit to ship cargo. Used containers can last for 8 to 10 years and are also the preferred choice for storage purposes. 

You can buy used 40ft containers in locations like Toronto for as low as $1,500 on our platform. Click here to check out the price difference between new and used containers in your location to make the best deals! 

How much do empty shipping containers cost? 

The prices of shipping containers depend on a variety of factors. This includes the location, supply and demand and the type of shipping container you’re buying. Here are the average prices of standard containers in popular locations. 

Prices of cargo-worthy (used) containers 

Location  20ft container 40ft container
Europe $1246 $2309
China $1258 $1533
USA $1435 $1983
India $966 $1929

As you can see, the prices vary significantly from one location to another. Most of the time, it’s the container demand in a location that drives the price of containers. 

Currently, several economic factors like the surplus of shipping containers in the global market and the increase of empty containers at various ports have led to an overall decrease in container prices. 

Being part of the shipping industry, it’s important that you keep up with the latest developments in the market and how they impact prices. One easy tool to do this is xChange Insights. On Insights, you can access real-time container prices in 110+ locations globally.

Insights graph - container prices

From the graph above, you can see that the price of a 40ft cargo-worthy container in New York is more than that in Antwerp, Belgium. Therefore, it would make more sense to buy containers from Antwerp. This way, you’ll be saving around $1000 simply because you’re aware of the best places to buy containers from. 

With Insights, you can access container prices quickly and use them to negotiate the best deals. Want to know more about Insights and how it can benefit your business? Click here to schedule a free demo of Insights today!

What happens to empty shipping containers after delivery? 

Once the container gets discharged at a port, it gets transported to the consignee’s distribution centre or warehouse. It’s at this point that the container becomes empty. Usually, three things happen with empty shipping containers. 

  • The empty shipping containers are loaded with a new batch of cargo and shipped from the port to their new destination. 
  • They are shipped to their new destination sans cargo due to empty shipping repositioning. 
  • Or, they get piled up at ports and depots. 

Ideally, all the containers should be carrying freight. But you’ll be surprised to know that out of 170 million containers that get shipped every year, at least 60 million are, in fact, empty. This is called empty container repositioning — one of the biggest crises in the shipping business. 

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 another port that doesn’t have containers. 

Let’s understand this through the Container Availability Index (CAx). The CAx is a tool that monitors the import and export of full container load (FCL) around the major ports. 

  • A reading of 0.5 means that the same amount of containers leaves and enter a port in the same week. 
  • Reading > 0.5 means that more containers enter — indicating container surplus. 
  • And, a reading < 0.5 means more containers leave — indicating a container deficit. 

Let’s look at the map below. The CAx values for four major ports of the world: Los Angeles, Rotterdam, India, and Shanghai are 0.75, 0.78, 0.81, and 0.64 respectively. According to CAx, the ports of India and Rotterdam have more empty containers than Los Angeles and Shanghai. 

Container availability index

In all likelihood, these ports are flooded with empties. The containers will have to be moved from these overflowing ports to locations where there’s demand or shortage.

Moving containers empty burns the pockets of carriers and container owners. But there’s an easy way to avoid this cost which we’ll discuss later in the blog. Let’s first understand why empty containers pile up at ports in the first place.

Why do empty containers pile up at ports? 

Unfortunately, empty shipping repositioning is not just a seasonal or a one-time phenomenon.

If you look at the graph below, you’ll notice that the CAx of India has remained more than 0.5 throughout the year 2022 and 2023. The same goes for other ports we’ve discussed as well. So even though all the four ports are busy throughout the year, why do India and Rotterdam have more empty shipping containers? This is because of container imbalance. Let’s understand it in this context.

Container availability index India

China is a major manufacturing hub. As a result, raw materials and goods are mainly exported out of Shanghai. Since the exports surpass imports, the Chinese port has less empty shipping containers – and a less CAx value.  

On the other side, India has a high CAx value, implying a higher import of goods than export in the year 2022 and 2023. Due to the current decrease in exports, India is facing a pile-up of empty shipping containers. This surplus has also driven down the cost of shipping containers in India. 

Now, you don’t want your containers to be buried at a port. So, you’ll have to get them repositioned. And empty container repositioning is only going to burn your pockets. But what if we tell you there’s a way to move your containers without opting for empty container repositioning? Read on to find out more!

How to avoid empty container repositioning? 

You can avoid empty container repositioning by making your containers available for one-way leasing. In this leasing arrangement, the shipper will use your container to move their cargo only one way. What they’re essentially doing is that they are moving your container for you on your desired route. This way, they get to move their goods and you get to reposition your container. It’s a win-win! 

If the destination is advantageous, the shipper might even pay you a pick-up charge for leasing your container. Although this is going to be extremely rare since you’re most likely to reposition containers where the demand is high. 

But be assured that you’ll save the freight rate. And this is the biggest advantage of renting your containers for one-way leasing!  

Are you wondering where you can find such shippers? You can simply use our one-way leasing platform to connect with 1500+ members waiting to rent your containers. Just make your containers available and get contacted by vetted users.

See how an NVOCC from India, Indus Container Lines has saved thousands of dollars on empty container repositioning through xChange.

Now that you don’t have to worry about container repositioning, it’s time to buy empty shipping containers at the best prices. Read on to find out how you can do that.

Buy empty shipping containers at the best prices on xChange 

If you’re in the business of container trading and want to buy empty shipping containers, Container xChange is the right platform for you. Not only can you find the best prices for containers but our platform also offers an array of other benefits.

Container trading platform

  • Find vetted partners and make deals. Risk free.

All companies undergo a mandatory vetting process before becoming members. This means, that you can do business with all xChange members. Risk-free. On top of this, all companies also have public profiles. Here, you can see reviews from previous partners – and how they’ve rated them. Want an extra layer of security? Keep on reading!

  • Make 100% secure transactions

Not only does xChange ensure that all sellers are vetted, we also protect the buyers. So, you don’t have to worry about paying and not getting your assets. Our dedicated Customer Service team makes sure that your container operations go smoothly. And that your payments are completely secure through the xChange wallet.

  • Know market cost and negotiate better prices on containers

Find the containers that fit your needs – and compare prices with other offers. On the trading marketplace, you get a full overview of available containers. And you can see what other sellers want for their boxes. Not satisfied with the price? Check the real-time prices on xChange Insights and text the seller right on the platform directly to negotiate better deals.

We offer all these benefits on a single and safe platform. Choose between 50,000+ containers from 1500+ vetted sellers on Container xChange. Click the banner below to get your free demo today!

Big banner for container trading

Empty Shipping Container: Common FAQs

Where are all the empty shipping containers?

The empty shipping containers are stacked in inland depots, ports, and other storage locations. They can also be aboard vessels that reposition them to ports where they're needed.

What is the price of a 20ft container?

The price of 20ft containers varies globally, but usually it’s between $2,150 and $3,207, depending on the container availability.

How much does an empty shipping container cost?

The price for an empty shipping container depends on the availability and equipment type. A cargo-worthy 20 DC may cost between $2,150 and $3,207, whereas a cargo-worthy 40 DC may cost between $2,550 and $4,525.

Article Name
Want to buy Empty Shipping Container? Get Best Prices [2023]
Find an empty shipping container in a few simple steps. Get the best deals while avoiding empty container repositioning and shortage.
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Container xChange
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