Outline plans have been submitted to create a mixed-use development of up to 40 units from containers at The Yard on Bardwell Road.
Developers say there are over 24 million unused shipping containers worldwide and adapting them is around 30 per cent less expensive than constructing conventional buildings.
They are secure, are designed to interlock for easy transportation, can be fitted together in a number of ways and can include solar energy, biomass fuel and green roofs.
The site is the former Barker Collins steelworks at Hallamshire Works and is currently occupied by SYK who deal with shipping container modification and storage.
The plan is to modify 40 x 40ft containers into a two-storey building to house new business startups with bespoke leases, no long-term tie-ins and below market value.
JR Planning Consultants say in an application: "The site lies just on the edge of Neepsend and is predominantly industrial, although it does contain a diverse mix of businesses, including scrap yards, recording studios, cutting-edge software developers and the Foundry Climbing Centre.
"However, other than a ribbon of riverside development, it has seen little activity of any real quality in recent years.
"Our proposal will not only help rejuvenate the area but will support current Kelham Riverside businesses through its carefully selected occupiers."
The land is classed as a flood risk so developers must show the scheme is safe, won't increase flooding elsewhere and will benefit the community.
Developers say: "Containers erected on a concrete foundation that was formerly a steelworks offers minimal construction activity.
"The use of recycled containers reduces its carbon footprint on a massive scale in comparison to a traditional build.
"Its very nature also allows the development to be transferred to another site with minimal ease if required. It constitutes a removable temporary building and allows the flow of flooding to pass safely at its current levels.
"They're an ideal building material, designed to resist extremely harsh environments, corrosion resistant, and meet or exceed structural safety codes."
Planning officers are considering the application which can be viewed here