Inefficiencies and Risks

Belonging to container leasing companies or not, inefficiencies and risks like empty containers, fraud, theft and security risks exist.

Empty Containers

Empty containers are cluttering the ports all over the world. For example, it is estimated that there are at least 100,000 empty containers in storage yards around the Port of Jersey that belong to container leasing companies and an additional 50,000 belonging to ocean carriers.

At an estimated price of $2,600 for a 40ft container, their total value is around $200 million. And all these are part of container leasing companies only. 

There are also shipping line containers, about a half. In US it is estimated there are between 300,000 to 400,000 empty containers.

Statistics published by Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd on the number of empty containers handled as a percentage of port volume confirm this. In North America, between 20 and 22 percent of the total port volume is empty containers. This is comparable to statistics of 14 and 16 percent for Southeast Asia and South Asia, respectively. This seems to point to the imbalance in trade between North America and the East, as well as the high cost of repositioning empty containers.

Fraud and Theft

Once a container is loaded and sealed, people tend to trust the paperwork. That's why containers facilitate the crimes of malefactors and forgers. There are several types of container fraud:

  • when the cargo in the container is different from the cargo listed on the manifest or Bill of Lading;
  • misdescription: it can be the result of an honest mistake, or can be made to evade higher freight costs, custom duties or regulations concerning the shipment of hazardous waste.

Security Risks

The great majority of container leasing companies think that containers do not represent a security concern. However, only about 3 percent of the containers handled at ports are physically inspected.

A great number of trucking companies and freight forwarders think that containers are a security concern. They also think that technology can be used to address security concerns.

Also the ocean carriers are considering the containers a security concern. Many companies purchased their own X-ray machine and randomly X-ray approximately one third of the containers handled, plus anything that seems suspicious.

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