Down in southern California there are over 100,000 empty shipping containers cluttering docks, nearby yards and even streets. Several retailers including Walmart have several empty containers in the parking lots. The real problem is that logistics has failed to handle the problem of container returns.
Sweepers are sometimes also called extra loaders. Usually these are dispatched as extra sailing to recover empty containers. Before the pandemic the system was more ordered by with problems of late the empty containers have been accumulating.
The surge in demand for alternative ocean transport stems from recent labor turmoil layered on top of existing productivity problems at ports from Washington to Southern California, plus retailers’ desire to pre-order spring merchandise and ship cargo ahead of factory shutdowns for the Chinese New Year in February.
Looking forward the problem will eventually correct itself. Once the pandemic is over with and shipping returns to more or less normal. This will be slow as China still is shutting down anything that shows an outbreak of COVID-19. China is well immunized but there are still problems with outbreaks,