When global supply chains snap back to some form of normality – widely tipped to be in the second half of the year – transport operators will have to brace for a new headache, with an avalanche of empty containers predicted to cause some chaos.
The delays in the supply chain during the pandemic have led to the need for additional containers to be used. When the supply chain normalises, this will potentially create a pile of 3.5m teu of empty containers from the transpacific alone, according to a new report from Denmark’s Sea-Intelligence.
“When the supply chains start to shorten – and eventually they will – this will release a large amount of empty containers, especially in the US. This will cause widespread congestion problems in the second half of 2022 and in 2023, in terminals as well as container depots, unless carriers and container leasing companies start planning for this development already now,” Sea-Intelligence cautioned in its latest weekly report.
The resolution of the operational bottleneck problems will create a “ripple effect”, Sea-Intelligence suggested, with the potential of overwhelming the empty container depots in the US.
Conceptually, the problem is the same in Europe, as well as any other trade currently subjected to an elongated supply chain.