Shipping_containers_at_ClydeIt’s hard to imagine a world without container ships. These ships make it possible for us to request and send products all over the world. How do you think that Chinese- made pair of jeans go to you? Container ships are a feat of engineering and the backbone to our modern economy. The container aboard these ships are able to seamlessly be transported to the ship by semi-trucks, loaded on the ship, and taken off to be transported by truck to their destination. There is no need to unload the contents as in the old days.

Before containerization was invented, items were transported in packages and placed aboard ships. It was a painstaking, time consuming process. Containers can hold up to 64,000 lbs of cargo each. Thanks to the invention of containers, the shipping time for cargo was reduced by 84% and costs went down 35%. By 2001, almost 90% of dry cargo was shipped in a container.

Shipping containers are built to hold heavy material, withstand the salty ocean air, and last a long time. They are usually made of steel, but can also be made of aluminum, fiberglass, or even wood. The invention of the container was not met with open arms. Many trade unions for dock workers balked at the idea. They believed this invention would cause massive job losses. Many companies involved in ports and railways were worried about the huge costs involved in developing infrastructure to handle these new containers.

Containers can now be loaded and unloaded from a ship in a few hours. The sturdy containers also allow for less breakage while the ship is underway. There is also less theft. Container ships now make up about 14% of the world’s fleet based on tonnage. Despite improvements in efficiency, about 2,000-10,000 containers are lost at sea each year. This costs companies about $370 million dollars. This is due to storms, or even ships sinking. Shipping by container is still the best way to go for many companies around the world. You can thank this containerization innovation next time you purchase an item made overseas.

UnknownMany of us are familiar with the fizzy sound that emanates as we pull the tab on a can of beer or soda. There are so many aluminum cans out in the world that 113,000 of them are recycled every minute. According to the Aluminum Association, recycled cans can appear back on shelves in about 60 days.
Where did these cans come from? Back in 1959, Coors created the first all-aluminum beverage container. Also at this time, Coors was paying a penny for each can returned to them. In 1964, Royal Crown Cola introduced RC Cola and Diet Rite in aluminum cans.
Why use aluminum? Before aluminum, beverage makers used steel cans. Aluminum proved to be much lighter and had a better surface for applying graphics than steel. Cans today weigh less than an ounce. Aluminum cans also allow for 100% protection against contaminants, oxygen, and light, according to the Aluminum Association. These cans also do not rust, have one of the longest shelf lives of any packaging, and are tamper-resistant. Aluminum cans are so strong, four six-packs can hold up a 2 ton car! In addition to providing superior beverage packaging, aluminum cans are used for aerosol products and paint.
The problem with the first aluminum cans was their opening mechanism. They required a device called a “church key” to open the cans. It is said that the inventor of the pull tab had to use the fender of his car to open his beer can, as he forgot his church key. He owned a tool company and invented the pull tab. This tab predated the tabs we are familiar with today, the “stay-on tab” invented in 1975.
The aluminum can is still alive and thriving more than 50 years after their invention. This growth can be attributed to the continued popularity of canned soft drinks, and the booming energy drink market. Companies like Red Bull, Amp, Monster, and more are utilizing aluminum cans to house their beverages. In addition to energy drinks, many craft beer brewers are using aluminum cans as opposed to bottles. The Aluminum Association found that almost 400 brewers use these cans, as they provide superior protection from light and oxygen.

2015-ford-f-150-photo-564664-s-986x603-626x382It seems we have discussed the use of steel in automobiles in a number of blogs over the last several months. First steel is going to be replaced by aluminum, then an article retracts that idea saying steel is around to stay. I suppose it will always depend on the vehicle but Ford recently announced the final steel-bodied F-150 rolled off the line at Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant last month. 

According to, Ford’s Kansas City facility will continue to manufacture steel-bodied F-150s until the end of the year, the line in Dearborn is being dismantled to make room for the new tooling and equipment required to produce aluminum-bodied trucks for the 2015 model year.


The Dearborn plant will be closed until mid-September, putting about 3,000 workers on temporary layoff. Employees will be called back in tiers, with two crews returning on September 21 and a third on October 20. Starting initially with preproduction models, the plant is scheduled to return to full speed before January.

According to experts, the company’s decision to switch its venerated pickup truck to aluminum is not without risk. Ford sold 63,240 F-150s in the U.S. in July, the last full month of production before the $359-million switchover began. In order to keep the cash flowing, Ford needs to expedite the switch but without sacrificing quality.

Read the full article here


10443310_672801599463694_4872253459980714572_nDid you know Americans use 100 million steel cans each day? That’s according to During that same day, more than 67 million cans are recycled by steel companies throughout North America. 

You may not realize it but we rely on steel packaging for our food to be durable. In fact, it may surprise you that you probably use at least one steel can ever day. While people call them tin cans, metal cans or aluminum cans, most food cans are truly made of steel. 

Steel cans package a variety of products including fruits, vegetables, soups, sauces, meats, juice, pet food, cleaning products, shoe polish, paint and coffee. But, steel cans are also good for recycling. 

More steel is recycled each year than paper, pastil aluminum and glass combined. When steel is recycled, it conserves energy, natural resources as well as making the process more financially sustainable. 

Read more about recycling steel and why it starts with you in the home below: 

How do you prepare steel cans for recycling? 
Once steel cans are used, make sure there is no remaining food in the can by rinsing it out. Place the steel lid inside the can as well since both can be recycled. If your community recycling program accepts empty steel aerosol cans or empty steel paint cans, they should accept these cans as recyclable materials as well. (Check your local recycling program about steel with the Steel Recycling Locator.) Just make sure the container is empty.

How do communities collect steel cans for recycling programs? 
Through curbside collection, drop-off sites or multi-material buyback recycling centers. In some communities, household refuse may be sent to a resource recovery facility (or waste-to-energy facility), where steel cans are automatically removed for recycling by magnets. This means that the steel cans are magnetically separated and recycled even when they’re placed in the trash. However, not every city has this type of service so it’s encouraged to place your steel household products in the recycling bin every time.

Where else might steel containers be collected for recycling? 
Anywhere they are used. On-site recycling programs may be established at restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and many other establishments that have foodservice facilities.

What happens to steel cans after they are collected? 
A recycling truck takes the steel cans and other materials from the curbside, drop-off site or buyback center and hauls them to a material recovery facility (MRF). At the MRF, the steel cans are magnetically separated from the other recyclables, crushed into large cubes called bales, and then shipped to steel mills or foundries for recycling. The steel cans are then combined with other steel scrap from other recycling locations, taken to a steel mill and melted in a furnace to make new steel for many new steel products which can include automobiles, appliances, construction materials or another container.

While many packaging materials have to be “downcycled” into lesser products, steel can be continuously recycled into any common steel product without a loss of quality.

What other steel products are recycled? 
Many steel products are recycled every day. Steel from appliancesautomobilesand construction materials is routinely recycled. Each year, more than 80 percent of the steel the domestic industry produces is recycled. That’s a lot of steel!

What does it mean to “buy recycled?” 
The term “buy recycled” refers to ways that you can help keep steel’s infinite life cycle a continual loop through buying products that are made of recycled materials. All steel contains a minimum of 25% recycled material so when you buy a steel product, whether it’s a paper clip, an appliance or a steel-framed home, you can be sure you’re “buying recycled.”

What are the benefits of recycling steel? 
Recycling steel helps save landfill space while providing a valuable scrap resource to the steel industry. Using old steel to make new steel also preserves natural resources and energy. For every ton of steel recycled, 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone are conserved. And in a year, the steel industry conserves the equivalent energy to power about 18 million homes for 12 months or enough to provide the city of Los Angeles power for roughly eight years.


According to a recent study by Ducker Worldwide LLC, aluminum sheet usage for light vehicle body and closure parts will grow from less than 200 million pounds in 2012 to approximately 4 billion pounds by 2025.

The Troy, Michigan-based market research firm says aluminum usage will grow exponentially over the next decade, with consumption in 2015 surpassing records set in previous decades by about 1 billion pounds.

Imagine this: pickup trucks will feature an average of 548.9 pounds of aluminum per vehicle. So, what does this all mean? Well, according to Ducker the projected growth will require, “a tremendous increase in heat-treating capacity.” Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Fiat Chrysler will be the biggest consumers of aluminum sheet through 2025.


A recent article in American Metal Market reveals that steel will remain the material of choice for automakers. According to Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) advanced high-strength steels continue to grain traction among automakers, sometimes at the expense of competing materials such as aluminum.

SMDI President Lawrence Kavanagh told AMM, “Right now we’re working on vehicles that are going to launch in ’17, ’18 and ’19, which is why I know you are going to see continued high adoption of high-strength steels.”

This is good news for the steel industry after Ford Motor Co. announced it is making its F-150 pickup with an aluminum body-in-white.

Ronald Krupitzer, SMDI’s vice president for the automative market says there has been “keen interest” from automakers to have high-strength steels for trucks, SUVs and larger sedans as far out as the 2018 model year and just because aluminum is seeing interest from automakers now doesn’t mean the trend will prove durable.

If you remember back to the 1980’s there was an effort to put plastic body panels on vehicles and that lost popularity very quickly. Metal came back, and steel predominantly replaced plastic in all cases.


It’s time to take another look back at our favorite nostalgia trip, old industry film reels, especially those about the once unmatched US steel industry. The first is “Steel: A Symphony of Industry,” produced in 1936 by The American Iron and Steel Institute.


Next is the US Steel Corporation’s “New Neighbor” from 1953.


And finally, for a change of pace, Reynolds Metals Company’s 1956 film, “Aluminum on the March.”