Tank containers offer obvious sustainability benefits. They are reusable, recyclable and resistant to product wastage. Safety, quality and efficiency are watchwords throughout the industry. Nearly all of an ISO tank’s environmental impact happens not during its manufacture, cleaning or disposal, but during its actual usage; i.e. it is not just economically efficient, but environmentally efficient as well.
This efficiency – which reduces deadhead journeys and maximises use of water and rail connections – pays its benefits in the form of a lower carbon footprint .
Tank containers are designed for an economic life of typically 20 years. During this life the tank is used over and over again. After discharge of cargo the tank is cleaned, inspected and prepared for the next cargo load.
The tank operates door-to-door. It is loaded with cargo in plant A and transported by truck, rail and ship to the destination plant B where the tank is unloaded and the cargo directed into the production process.
Tank containers are manufactured of materials that are very suitable for recycling. The total weight is typically 3,700 kg, of which the majority is metal, namely the stainless steel tank and the carbon steel frame.
These are easily cut into manageable dimensions that can be melted and made into new materials.
To extend the life beyond 20 years, tank containers often undergo remanufacturing. This starts with the removal of the entire tank frame and insulation, retaining only the stainless steel tank vessel, valves and fittings.
Stainless steel is a long lasting metal; it is highly suitable for re-use. The remanufacturing process recycles the retained tank into a new frame. The tank is reinsulated and tested and continues its service life as new. It is expected that this process will extend the life of the tank a further fifteen years.
Ease of multi-modal transport
Tank containers are inherently multi-modal, transferring easily and quickly from ships to barges to rail to road. Being able to travel on the water can significantly reduce a journey’s footprint.
For example, the footprint of a cargo shipped by sea from Le Havre (France) to St.Petersburg (Russia) is nine times lower than by road.
If it goes by rail, the footprint is about five times lower than by road. This order-of-magnitude difference applies to most any journey where either water, rail or road transport are viable options.