Hackney man’s plan to put to good use thousands of dumped containers
- Credit: Daniele Colucciello
Thousands of shipping containers are abandoned and left to rust every year, but a Hackney inventor has a plan to make better use of them and help communities affected by natural disasters.
Justin Beardsell told the Gazette the cost of shipping empty containers back to their homes after use means they are often dumped at their destination ports.
His idea to solve this environmental problem is a new kind of clamp.
The 34-year-old said the containers can be used for everything from box parks to providing temporary accommodation in disaster zones.
Justin said: "They are such a potent visible symbol of the modern world.
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"We wouldn't be in a situation of having to reuse them if it weren't for such egregious mass consumption."
He has spent the last two years designing the devices he calls Domino Clamps and his invention means anybody can attach and easily detach almost anything to the corner casting of a shipping container such as stairs, lights and cables.
Shipping containers are already being used all over Hackney in places like Shoreditch's Box Park and Containerville.
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The Brighton Housing Trust even built a 'container village' to house homeless people in 2014 called Richardson's Yard.
"One of the things that really got me excited is the possibility to partner with someone who's doing aid in disaster relief zones. You could turn up with a couple of shipping containers and quite quickly build a complex using three or four containers which have mezzanines, a roof and some lighting," he said.
Justin says shipping containers are difficult to recycle and are almost a victim of their own good design. "There's about 2.4 tonnes of steel in a shipping container [so] breaking one back down again takes a lot of effort, time and power," he said.
Most of the goods we buy get to us by sea. According to Annual Port Freight statistics (2018), the UK welcomes more than 93,000 cargo vessels a year. These vessels can hold up to 20,000 shipping containers and many are never returned to their point of origin.
Domino Clamps had its launch party in December and the first batch of clamps will be out this month. The finished product is a world away from its initial designs.
"I bought a load of Plastercine and went out to London fields with a cutting board and some sculpting tools and just started playing with different shapes and mechanisms. I was trying to figure out how to design something so that you could just tighten it up and it would lock into place inside the cavity," Justin said.
To find out more about Domino Clamps click here