What is an Intermediate Bulk Container?

Industrial Grade Reusable Containers

An intermediate bulk container (or IBC) is a pallet mounted, industrial grade reusable container that is used for storing and transporting bulk liquids and powders. Also known as a tote, the IBC is capable of stacking and can be moved by a pallet jack or forklift.

The three broad types of IBCs in use today can be categorized under rigid, folding and flexible.

The term 'intermediate' comes from the volume that intermediate bulk containers carry, which sits in between that of tanks and drums. The two most common volumes of the rigid IBC are 1028 litres and 1272 litres

Common Uses

IBCs are used for the transport and storage of:

What IBCs Are Made Of

This depends on many factors including whether the IBC will be reused or not, the durability needed and legal requirements.

In the case of cube shaped rigid IBCs, the inner containers are often made from a plastic such as polyethylene or high density polyethylene (HDPE). They are also available in other materials such as aluminium or galvanized iron. The rigid outer container or cage is usually made from galvanized tubular steel or iron. Folding IBCs don't have a rigid outer cage and are made of very durable plastic that folds inward when empty. Flexible IBCs or bulk bags are made from various heavy duty materials such as woven polypropylene or polyethylene

Benefits of Intermediate Bulk Containers

IBCs are a very cost effective way to safely move a variety of products from point A to point B.

There is a tap or valve at the base where a hose can be attached to allow easy transfer of contents into smaller containers for easy packaging, distribution and sale in your target location. This is important when certain packaging and legal requirements need to be ensured locally. Cube shaped rigid IBCs can be stacked for optimal use of space during shipping and storage. Both folding and flexible IBCs use even less space once empty on return journeys which is a bonus however they are not suitable for all kinds of substances. Nor are they as durable as a rigid intermediate bulk container. IBCs are more effective than round tanks as more of them can occupy the same space.