IBC Totes Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs)

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IBC totes are used primarily to ship and store liquid and/or granulated materials. They can be reused multiple times, and present a number of advantages to cylindrical containers. For example, the cubic shape of IBC totes allows users to transport more material in the same amount of space. In other words, IBC totes allow users to more effectively occupy the space inside of a 53’ trailer in comparison to 55 gallon drums.

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FAQs and The Ultimate IBC Totes Buyer’s Guide (2020)

Why use an IBC Tote?

IBC Totes are intermediate bulk containers designated for the handling, storage, and transportation of liquid and/or granulated materials

Advantages of using IBC totes:

  • Cost effective industrial-sized storage tanks
  • Efficient uses of space 
  • Can be reused multiple times
  • Optimal form factor to cylindrical drum containers

Why Use IBCs Over 55 Gallon Barrels?

Increased Capacity

Typically 55 gallon barrels are transported 4 per skid. Four barrels on a 48 x 40 is almost identical in size as one IBC Tote.

  • Four 55 gallon barrels = 200 Gallons (757.082)
  • One 275-gallon tote (1000 liters) = Five 55-gallon drums
  • One 330-gallon tote (1250 liters) = Six 55-gallon drums
  • Thus achieving a minimum increase of 20% in volume

Empty totes are stackable 3 – 4 high, while filled totes are safely stackable up to 2 high

Engineered for transportation & storage:

Totes have additional perks over barrels that allow for easier use.

  • Interlocking grooves made for stacking allows for a greater storage capacity
  • 4 way pallets for easy forklift and pallet jack access
  • Less labor & materials is required for transportation

IBC Tote Dimensions

Global and uniform

Global and uniform form factor helps you easily transport and ship your goods from location to location.

275 Gallon IBC Tote Tanks Dimensions

Dimensions: 40″L x 48″W x 46″H
60 Empty 275 Gallon fit in a 53’ dry van container
Weight: 135 lbs

330 Gallon IBC Tote Tanks Dimensions

Dimensions: 40″L x 48″W x 54″H
60 Empty 330 Gallon fit in a 53’ dry van container
Weight: 195 lbs

Who needs IBC totes and how to use them

Common IBC Users

IBCs are commonly used by chemical manufacturers, industrial mixers and blenders, and distributors. Popular industries include:

  • Agricultural
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Road Work/Striping
  • Chemicals and Solvents
  • Oil and Gas
  • Refineries

  • Petrochemical & Lubricants
  • Offshore Platforms
  • Plastics
  • Paints and Coatings
  • Dyes
  • Food and Beverage

  • Flavors and Fragrances
  • Personal Care and Cosmetics
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Landscaping
  • Water Treatment

They are primarily used to move and store:

  • Liquid, granulated, and powdered food ingredients
  • Food syrups like high fructose corn syrup, glucose syrup, and maple syrup
  • Rainwater collection and aquaponics systems
  • Raw materials for industrial production
  • Hazardous chemicals or goods like corrosives, flammable liquids, pesticides, and radioactive materials
  • Petrochemicals and lubricants

Over the road and sea approved

UN/DOT Certified

IBC totes are heavily regulated by federal (Title 49 CFR), state, and local governments because of the different material they can be filled with. These regulations help create totes that are safe, effective, efficient tools for bulk materials to minimize work efforts as well as employee and public hazards.

Each composite IBC intended for use according to the DOT Regulations and UN Model Recommendations shall bear visible markings.

If an IBC has a visible UN certification marking, it must comply with all respects of the DOT and UN requirements irrespective of whether or not hazardous materials are to be transported. These markings are internationally recognized.

Hazardous Materials

A UN-approved stamped bottle means the bottle is safe and efficient to use for regulated products, hazardous materials, and dangerous and sensitive filling goods.

UN-approved bottles are allowed to be filled with high-density filling goods up to 1.9 kg / liter.

High-Level UN-approved bottles can be filled with even denser goods up to 1.6 kg / liter, and can be filled at lower temperatures.

Food Grade / Non-Hazardous Materials

Bottles can also be non-UN stamped, meaning it is safe and efficient to use for non-regulated, non-hazardous materials

Sturdy Construction

Primary Container Manufacturers

The three primary manufacturers of IBC totes are Greif, Inc, Mauser Packaging Solutions, and Schutz Packaging Systems.

IBC manufacturers follow a global uniform standard, which are in compliance with international packaging regulations governing the transport of dangerous goods and meet customer’s requirements regarding stability, functionality, and packaging reliability.

IBC containers are typically made of at least 5 modular components and may come with additional service equipment and/or external markings.


All bottles are blow-molded with a high-density polyethylene (HPDE) interior and post consumer resin (PCR) exterior.

HDPE is an industrial strength, durable plastic that is resistant to the corrosive effects of many chemicals. It does not rust and can resist impacts, punctures, and tears. It is also FDA food grade approved and ANSI / NSF 61 certified for consumables and potable water.

IBC bottles are BPA free and FDA approved. The bottles have multiple layers and a permeation barrier, preventing contaminants from outside going in, and keeping the fillings from inside coming out.


The plastic bladder or bottle is wrapped in a zinc-coated and galvanized steel cage which helps secure the bottle to the pallet and protects it during storage and transport.

The cage allows the unit to withstand dynamic and static loads and also allows it be stacked vertically to save space.


The reusable pallets are the main characteristic of an IBC tote.

They are made of either composite, plastic, or wooden material, and feature 4-way access channels to allow handling and maneuvering by forklifts or pallet jacks.

Types of pallets found on an IBC Tote

Composite Pallets

Composite pallets are the “standard” solution and they come in frames, skids, and ISO container forms. These pallets are made of a combination of steel and plastic, ideal for impact resistance and handling over the long-term.

Composite frames are stiffer for better high-rack performance, and have less pan sagging from the weight of the bottle and its fillings.

Plastic Pallets

Plastic pallets are the “sophisticated” solution and there is only one type.

Typically they are a single-piece injection molded made of light or recycled plastics. Their lighter weight makes them easier to handle compared to composite pallets.

They are extra hygienic and aren’t prone to contamination making them ideal for moving food quality stuffs and pharmaceutical products.

Wooden Pallets

Wooden pallets are the “economic” solution and come in the same forms as Composite pallets.

They are robust, easy to handle, and offer high rigidity.

The standard frames are the simple cost-effective option, but have a short shelf life as wood starts to deteriorate.