Writer encourages Islanders to join sea container committee

To the Expositor:

We welcome and encourage everybody to join our not-for-profit group for the largest iron/steel recycling project on Manitoulin Island since World War II.

On a world-wide basis, 90 percent of today’s general cargo (non-bulk) is shipped in steel sea containers. There are more than 21 million sea containers around the world, with more than 11,000 containers in Canada at any one time.

Canada tends to receive more sea containers via imports than what are needed to export Canadian goods overseas. Canada, therefore, ends up with a surplus of sea containers, or they need to be returned empty to their country of origin at additional cost. With time, sea containers get damaged, are no longer sea-worthy, or the inventory of empty sea containers exceed the current needs or storage space of the freight companies. These old or surplus sea containers need to be returned to their port of origin, sold, or retired.

Most people have heard about the Environmental five Rs (refuse, reduce, repair, re-use, and recycle). This maxim applies to used sea containers as well. A sea container is made from 5,000 lbs of high quality steel that could be recycled by melting it down to make new steel. However, it is far better for the environment to re-use a used sea container as-is, rather than recycling the steel that the sea container is made from. By re-using a retired or surplus sea container, we can avoid the consumption of materials and energy to melt and reprocess the steel. If a used sea container helps us avoid or delay the building of a shed or garage, we save even more money and resources.

Sea containers have many advantages when compared to other storage systems. They are designed to be wind and water resistant during a storm on the high seas, so they easily withstand Manitoulin’s weather. Sea containers are built tough to resist tampering, vandals, and burglary.

Sea containers are immune to wildlife invasions (eg. porcupines, raccoons, birds, rats, mice, and even bears). That means farmers can safely store their animal feed, seeds, and farm produce without risk of spoilage or consumption by pests.

Some people might be worried about old sea containers becoming an eyesore, especially in residential areas. Currently in Central Manitoulin, as well as most municipalities, there is a bylaw setting minimum acceptable property standards, banning dirty windows, faded or peeling paint, uncut grass, and similar problems. We believe this property standards bylaw can and should be applied equally to the responsible use of sea containers.

Perhaps sea containers can help us in other areas. Under Ontario’s Planning Act, municipalities are responsible for ensuring there is an adequate supply of affordable housing. Unfortunately, there has been a chronic shortage of affordable housing on Manitoulin Island for years. For example, the public housing units in Mindemoya have a 1.5 year waiting list, and no more units are currently planned. Around the world for more than a decade, sea containers have been converted into beautiful, modern homes, apartment building, hotels, offices, group homes, schools, and college dormitories at a fraction of the cost and construction time for traditional buildings. This means that even someone earning minimum wage on Manitoulin can afford their own home, apartment, or condominium if it was built from re-used sea containers.

Can you offer a good home to a hard working sea container that has reached its retirement age?

For more information, or to become a member of SSEACC, feel free to talk to any member, or give me a call at (705)377-4039.

Glenn Black, spokesperson

SSEA Container Committee

Providence Bay