NARRATOR: Steel is the worlds most popular metal and rightly so, not only is it incredibly versatile with a thousand and one different uses; it can also be incredibly green.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Because steel is one of the very few man made materials that 100 percent recyclable, and for this reason steel scrap very rarely goes to waste.
NARRATOR: And this is great news because for every ton of steel recycled you save 1 ½ tons of iron ore, ½ a ton of coal, 75 percent of the energy and 40 percent the water that you need to make steel from scratch.
NARRATOR: Air pollution is also reduced by 86 percent and water pollution by 76 percent, plus you save yourself the job of getting rid of one and a quarter tons or solid waste. In this case recycling definitely makes sense.
RICHARD AMBROSE: This recycling and re use of steel has been going on for generations, in fact your knife and fork could have been made out of the remnants of a VictorIAN FELTHAM: bridge an old battle ship or even a sword wielded at the battle of waterloo, and the process goes on and on even today.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Now if I ask you to name a classic piece of 1950's American design the steel shipping container probably isn't the first thing that springs to mind, but I tell you what you can't argue with success.
NARRATOR: Steel containers in one form or another have been around for most of the 20th century, but it was the American's back in the 1950's who were the first to standardize the boxes. This led the way to a fully integrated road rail and sea transport system. Today 90 percent of the worlds goods are transported in steel containers and there an estimated 200 million of them world wide. And after 10 years or so of being loaded and unloaded and shipped around the globe, they tend to get fairly beaten up and are often retired even though many of them are still structurally sound.
JONNY PHILLIPS: With millions of these old containers piling up around the world, there's growing interest in finding new uses for them. So how do you fancy living in a steel house?
NARRATOR: And the reason why steel containers like these convert so easily into buildings is down to their inherent structural strength. Because of this they require just a simple concrete base and they can be piled up to ten stories high. That's just what these people have done on this ground breaking development in the heart of London's Docklands.
NARRATOR: IAN FELTHAM: Feltham shows Jonny round.
Wow this is amazing; I have to say this is not what I was expecting at all. What's it like living in it?
It is just like living in a, a normal house, when you are actually in here and you're going about your every, you know your every day things cooking and sitting down to dinner and stuff you... it's just er like a normal apartment.
And what about when there's heavy rain, is it loud?
It's er, it's so well insulated I mean I think you, you probably get erm a little bit of pitter patter on the steel work but in a kind of nice way it's er...
Yeah it's quite a reassuring sound isn't it?
So this is quite a wide room so this is obviously not a single container.
IAN FELTHAM: These are... This is two 40 foot containers basically cut down the middle and joined together, you can see the join runs right the way through and then the two containers go back there and have got the bathroom and the bedroom the other side.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Yeah it's a lot more spacious than I was expecting, it's really nice. Well thanks very much for showing me round.