ContainersEuropePorts and Logistics

Dutch firm markets ‘one-way’ containers

Some 20m ocean containers move across the planet, carrying freight to every corner of the globe. After being unloaded at their destination port, 40% of the containers continue over land, while 20% are returned empty by sea.

The Rotterdam firm K-tainer has come up with a new sustainable alternative to this procedure: one-way containers.

The new and used containers offered by K-tainer Trading and K-tainer Leasing come with a unique arrangement that reduces carbon emissions and completely refunds these savings to the user transporting the container as there is a third party in K-tainer’s concept, between the buyer and the seller, namely the carrier. Container shipping lines, exporters and road haulage firms have up to 30 days to use the containers free of charge, and can leave them with the buyer after unloading.

A diverse range of clients are already taking advantage of this option. The main draw for users is that the carbon savings refund enables them to increase the sustainability of their logistics service.

The one-way containers are complementary to carriers’ own equipment – specifically that share of their containers that won’t be filled with return cargo.

“Imagine a shipping company sends 10 containers per week to Ireland, but only has enough freight to fill six containers on the return voyage. In this situation, the shipping company can benefit from henceforth using four of our one-way containers on its Ireland route, and leaving them there,” explained K-Tainer director Walter Ferreira.

K-tainer has been rewarded for this novel concept with a Lean & Green star, an international award recognising logistics companies that have truly explored every angle to reduce the sector’s carbon emissions.

“We have a new fleet of containers built in China, but of course, we don’t ship those empty either: we get a party to fill them with cargo,” said Ferreira.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Shouldn’t this article be marked ‘ADVERTORIAL’?
    This isn’t a new concept at all.
    Many container suppliers have offered and continue to offer so-called ‘one-way’ containers and there are lots of cabotage opportunities to do the same thing. However, leaving empties in Ireland will not be done ‘gratis’ – there will be a price attached, as this is an imbalanced trade and, sooner or later, the surplus will outweigh the overall flow.
    Indeed, the only true all-in one-way leasing concept was PrimeSource Leasing in the 1990’s.

  2. Was this intended for April 1st?

    The ship isn’t “one way”; she has to go back, and the difference in her fuel consumption between a cargo of empties and a cargo of air is minimal.

  3. Article is good in English but information is old wine in new commercial jargon filled, packaging !!!!!

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