A Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container’, FIBC, big bag, bulk bag’, Jumbo bags is a container in large dimensions for storing and transporting dry, free flowing products, for example sand, fertilizers, and granules of plastics.
FIBCs are most often made of thick woven polyethylene or polypropylene, either coated or uncoated, and normally measure around 110 cm or 45-48 inches in diameter and varies in height from 100 cm up to 200 cm or 35 to 80 inches. Its capacity is normally around 1000 kg or 2000 lbs, but the larger units can store even more. The average bulk bag made to ship one metric ton can weigh between 5-7 lbs.
Transporting and loading is done on either pallets or by lifting it from the loops. Bags are made with either one, two or four lifting loops. The single loop bag is suitable for one man operation as there is no need for a second man to put the loops on the loader hook. Emptying is made easy by a special opening in the bottom such as a discharge spout, of which there are several options, or by simply cutting it open.
Although there is disagreement on exactly where FIBCs were first made and used, it is certain that they have been employed for a variety of packaging purposes since the 1940s. These forerunners of the FIBC as we know it today were manufactured from PVC rubber and generally utilised within the rubber industry for the transportation of carbon black to be used as a reinforcing agent in a variety of rubber products.
By the 1960s, with the development of polypropylene combined with advances in weaving, the bulk bags as we know them today came into being and were rapidly adopted by a wide variety of oil and chemical companies to store and transport powdered and granular products.
It was during the oil crisis of the mid 1970s that the FIBC really came into its own for transporting huge quantities of cement to the Middle East from across Europe for the rapid expansion of the oil producing countries. At its zenith, upwards of 50,000 metric tons of cement was being shipped out on a weekly basis to feed the vast building programme.
The modern FIBC transports a growing figure of over ¼ billion tonnes of product each year and is used to handle, store and move products as varied as cereals to powdered chemicals and flour to animal feeds. With a capacity of up to 3m³ and load capability ranging from ½ a tonne to two tonnes FIBCs are highly cost effective, easily recyclable and ideal for virtually any free-flowing granule, powder, pellet or flake. FIBCs are also being developed to hold and filter fluid products.