All About IBC Tanks – Intermediate Bulk Containers

All About IBC Tanks – Intermediate Bulk Containers

Some companies have the need to store and transport massive amounts of liquids, semi-solids, pastes, or solids. Companies that need this look for Intermediate Bulk Containers to buy and handle. These IBC containers come in different types, they have different uses, and different brands sell them and can have different quality.

Industries like food & beverage, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and household chemicals are growing year over year and each one of these industries along with many others are buying more and more IBC tanks year-round. Buying these could really help out a company if they know what to look for. Making sure the quality is great though is important to protect the items that the IBC is storing.

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What Is An Intermediate Bulk Container?

Many companies out there have a need to store and transport material like this. A company looking to move and hold these products might be asking what an IBC actually is.

An intermediate bulk container (also known as IBC tote, IBC tank, IBC, or pallet tanks) are multi-use industrial-grade containers that are reusable. These tanks are created to handle, transport, and store liquids, semi-solids, pastes, or solids.

Most IBCs are shaped like cubes which allow you to efficiently and safely store and ship these containers without taking up too much space. Because of their cube shape, they are usually stackable and the capability to ship them in bulk allows for a low-cost solution for shipping products. This allows companies to take advantage of a smaller shipping space costing them less money while also transporting them more which moves more products.

There are two main types of IBC tanks. The first type is known as rigid intermediate bulk containers. These are stackable, reusable, and versatile with a pallet base that allows forklifts or pallet jacks the ability to move them around with ease. The material of the tank can be made from metal, plastic, or a combination of the two. Usually, the type of material used for the tank varies based on what kind of material the company is storing.

Rigid IBCs can be built to hold a volume of 400 liters up to 3000 liters. The most common quantities to hold are 1000 and 1250 liters. The most widely used rigid IBC is the caged IBC tote which is a white/translucent plastic container usually on a tubular steel grid. This type of IBC is low-cost and able to be used for a variety of reasons.

The second most common type of IBC is the flexible IBC tanks. These tanks are able to hold from 500 to 1000 kg and can be made with metal or plastic along with fiberwood, wood, aluminum, or folding plastic. One type of flexible IBCs is folding IBCs. The sides of these containers fold inward when the unit is empty for even more storage space when not in use. These types of tanks are used more for storing dry products such as sand or fertilizer.

History of IBC Tanks

The IBCs concept was patented in 1992 by the inventor Olivier J. L. D’Hollander working for Dow Corning S.A. He found a patent that inspired him that mentioned a “fold-up wireframe containing a plastic bottle” which he turned into IBCs.

IBC Tanks: What Are They Used For?

IBC Tanks can be used to hold many different types of things. In the food industry, IBCs can hold things like liquid, granulated, or powdered food ingredients. They can also have the ability to hold certain food syrups, such as corn or maple syrup. They can also be used in vineyards, wine fermentation, and alcohol production.

In the industrial industry, these tanks are known to hold paints and industrial coatings along with commodities and raw materials to aid industrial production. A big use is their ability to hold rainwater which is an entire use in itself called rainwater harvesting.

More applications that IBCs are good for is construction materials. They are used to hold road/highway work materials, paints for striping roads, and cleaning materials for construction.

What most people think of though is their ability to store bulk chemicals. Hazardous materials and dangerous goods can be stored in these tanks. Some petrochemical products such as oil, gas, detergents, solvents, and adhesives along with pharmaceutical compounds. Many chemicals that involve agriculture use and even fertilizer can be stored. Also, healthcare-related items and bio-waste materials are known to be used in these tanks.

Advantages to Using IBC Tanks over Others

IBCs are known to have several advantages over other container and storage types in the packaging industry. Being a cube is one advantage. They can be transported easier because there can be more material in the same footprint as the cylindrical-shaped containers that other companies use. More can be shipped in the same space compared to packaging in consumer amounts.

IBCs usually have plastic liners that can be discharged in a number of different ways that are better for the environment. IBCs also offer a way to bulk package a product that is half-complete where it is packaged fully in another country that is able to put it into consumer forms based on regulations of certain countries.

Intermediate bulk containers can be highly organized and mobile because of the cube form and the ability to move them so much easier than their competitors’ forms. Most IBCs come with a base that allows them to be lifted with any kind of forklift or jack as with the cylindrical containers need a special type of crane to move in most cases. When companies are able to stay organized with their containers, they usually stay more efficient and can handle logistics and timelines better than an unorganized system.

IBC companies that make great quality containers are made with some of the best construction materials providing long-term assets for the business. This allows companies to have a reliable and consistent way to handle and store the materials and assets that they need to be stored and transported.

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IBC Tank Brands That Are Well Known

Just like any other industry, there are some major IBC Tank brands that are ahead of the competition when it comes to production and quality.

Greif Inc.

One of the biggest brands that sell intermediate bulk containers is Greif Inc. They describe themselves as a global manufacturer for industrial packaging and one of the most common they sell is their IBCs. Greif has been producing these containers for over 140 years and they have 290 locations worldwide in 43 different countries.

Most of Greif’s IBC customers are for chemical storage. Because of the cost this could have on the environment, Greif promotes partnerships and programs trying to reduce the global footprint of their company and the industry while keeping the production at a high level.

Greif is also known for its regulation-compliant food packaging IBCs to transport food products around the world. The company uses flexible IBCs to handle the specific things that food requires to follow transport and storage laws around the world. Paper products and bins also serve specialty needs in the food and beverage industries.


Another big player in the IBC category is Schutz Packaging. Schutz’s main focus is being efficient with their packaging for their customers while being ecologically efficient for the environment. Schutz packaging systems are used millions of times a day all over the world and safe transports and stores a wide variety of contents.

Since the beginning of the company, Schutz has focused on embracing sustainable business principles in every aspect of their business. Part of their corporate philosophy is to be a dependable and responsible partner for their customers, employees, and society around them.

Because they are so ecologically sound, they offer two different types of IBC classes. Companies can buy a new IBC that hasn’t been used yet but Schutz also has a RECOBULK line that allows them to recondition old IBC bins and reuse them to be more environmentally friendly while also giving companies a way to help out ecologically as well.

One other way that Schutz is evolving the IBC business is with their ticket service. Lots of these companies don’t need these IBCs for the long-term. They just use them and then usually dispose of them in ways that aren’t the best. Schutz created a service that allows them to collect empty and unnecessary IBCs for free so they can recondition them and turn them use them again within their company and RECOBULK packaging.

All the customer has to do is go on the app or give Schutz a call and they will come to you when and where you want and collect the IBCs. Customers seem to love it because it saves space for them and it’s a lift of their shoulders of trying to dispose of them.


Mauser Packaging builds intermediate bulk containers that are durable and extremely reliable. Their products have been rigorously tested and store and transport a variety of materials to help out their customers. Mauser believes that their global network of design, manufacturing, and refurbishment and recycling facilities allow them to deliver high-quality packaging solutions anywhere their customers need it.

Mauser began as a German company and was established in 1896. Back then they just manufactured steel into certain furniture and other products. They eventually went on to develop many product innovations like the first metal barrel and the first usable plastic lid barrel. Many years later, Mauser still has that innovation mindset in mind.

Just like Schutz, Mauser is very big on sustainability. They believe that every one of their products can be reused. They try to educate their customers on the capabilities of their metal or plastic IBCs and that you get more value out of it if you learn how to reuse it. Their motto is “The more energy and raw materials you help conserve, the healthier you make our planet.”

This is why Mauser has the ability to pick up the empty containers not being used. They want to either be able to reuse them for another company looking for the product or recycle the parts to create a different product with it conserving the materials they have and the materials around them to help environmentally.


Werit brands themselves as experts in packaging technology and it shows in the quality of their products. Their IBC tanks are one of the best solutions to safely and reliably transport liquids and hazardous goods. They actually have the most variety with eight different styles of IBCs to choose from.

Werit specializes in containers for food products and beverages but has products for every need like chemicals and pharmaceuticals along with cosmetics as well. They have a full logistics and data department that will help their customers understand what they specifically need with their packaging and which of their products will best fit their needs.

Werit markets that they have their own consistent certified quality management system that they go through with every product they produce. This allows the company to not only ensure the quality that the customer is getting but also to allow the customers to be safe around the packaging and efficient in the storage and transport process as well.

One more thing Werit offers is a high level of customer service. They take care of all of their customers’ IBC reconditioning, allow customers to return their containers free of charge and also come to their clients to collect used and empty IBCs as well. Just like others, this allows the company to stay as environmentally-friendly as possible and recycle materials so that they can keep using them instead of creating new products from new materials.

Schoeller Allibert

Schoeller Allibert is another innovator in the industrial packaging world and has been designing and manufacturing products for more than 50 years. They mainly focus on things like agriculture, food and beverage, and retail customers to narrow down on specifically what IBC packaging would work best for them.

Schoeller Allibert is big on allowing their employees to be working in an environment that gives them the tools they need to perform at their best. They have over 2000 employees in more than 20 different countries so they have to ensure that every employee is getting equal opportunities and their code of conduct makes sure of it.

Another benefit of Schoeller Allibert is that they focus on cost reduction when they emphasize reducing IBC usage. They encourage reducing transport and packaging costs by using the returnable type of plastic packaging instead of wood or other types of material that won’t be good after one use.

Every step of their process is handled with data and logistic analytics to allow their customers to be able to save money while establishing their standard of high-quality products. With nine different sizes and combos to choose from, Schoeller Allibert allows every type of customer to find the IBC they are looking for.

FAQ for IBC Tanks

Below are some frequently asked questions about IBC Tanks:

How does a company acquire an IBC?

 IBCs can be purchased through many different companies. These companies usually offer new containers, rebottled containers, or washed containers. New containers mean an entirely new unit with new materials and a cage. A rebottled container means a new unit with a reused cage. A washed unit means a washed down unit with a washed down cage.

Typically, the washed unit is the least expensive and the new unit will be the most expensive. Depending on a company’s needs and use could vary on whether they need a new unit or a washed unit will suffice. If a business wants to store something like food or medical supplies, they’ll be more likely to have to go with a new unit. If a business is only storing something like sand or wood for a construction site, they might be able to go with the washed unit more.

Are IBCs safe to use?

 When it comes to IBC safety during storage and transport, it seems to heavily depend on the material that the containers are storing. If a company has a plastic IBC holding combustible or flammable liquids, fire hazards are still a big possibility. For long-term storage of these types of materials, metal IBCs are often more approved by federal regulations.

As far as the wear and tear of transporting containers, IBC containers are known to withstand conditions very well during transport. These containers are made with some of the highest quality materials out there so storing them for another time can make companies feel secure as well.

What are the most common sizes for IBCs by volume and dimensions?

 The most common IBC container size by volume is the 1000 liters and 1250 liters sized IBCs. One of the 1250 liters IBCs can replace six 200 liters drum pallets which will reduce load times and speed up product delivery for a business’s transport of materials.

Intermediate bulk containers have an average size of 45” L x 45” W x 50” H. Most Metal IBC containers have base dimensions: 48” L x 42” W. Another common IBC base size is: 46” L x 46” W. Every company that sells IBCs does have different sizing though. These are just the dimensions that are most often used.

What hazardous materials can be shipped in IBCs?

 Most liquids with a packaging group of II or III are available to ship in IBCs. Companies just have to make sure the shipment has ensured chemical compatibility and follows the regulations of the 49 CFR.

How much material can IBC steel tanks hold?

 Steel tanks have a 1.9 specific gravity, which is the ratio of the density of a substance to the density of a standard, usually water for a liquid or solid, and air for gas. A tank with a specific gravity of 1.9 can hold up to 1.9 kg per liter.

IBC Tanks—Industrial Packaging’s Saving Grace

When it comes to packaging and transporting hazardous goods, dangerous chemicals, or any other type of material, intermediate bulk containers are where companies should be looking. The ability to be able to not only feel assured that the material will be stored safely but also transported smoothly allows companies the ability to worry about more important things.

Intermediate bulk containers also save companies space and time on each and every transport. These containers easily stack on each other which makes the same space usable for multiple containers but the ability to lift them with a forklift or jack makes it a lot easier to move than their cylindrical counterparts.

Whether a company is looking for a place to store their fertilizer, catch some rainwater in the desert, or transport pharmaceuticals to a natural disaster, intermediate bulk containers are most likely going to be the best bet.


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