Reconditioned IBCs (Recertified Tank & Cage)

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Once an IBC tote has been used, it must go through a series of tests and examinations in order to be re-certified AKA a reconditioned IBC tote in accordance with the regulations provided by the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the United Nations.  Reconditioned totes come with a re-certified bottle and cage, and either a poly or steel pallet. Re-certified containers come in 275 or 330 gallon capacities and have 2″ quick disconnect or 2″ national pipe thread valve.

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Everything You Need To Know About A Reconditioned Container!

About Recertified Totes

IBCs that pass all of the necessary quality inspection examinations are marked accordingly, and are made available for sale. Once these totes have been properly labeled and made available for sale, they are immediately eligible for reuse. Totes that do not meet the necessary criteria are cleaned, shredded, and discarded in accordance with regulations and industry standards provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Reconditioned totes are not classified as food grade totes because their previous contents may serve as contaminants for food grade or highly regulated materials. As such, reconditioned, or “recon”, IBCs are used for storing and transporting less critical and regulated materials such as low grade chemicals, inputs for industrial production, solvents, detergents, adhesives, and other petrochemical and raw materials.

The reconditioning process is laborious, and requires a tremendous amount of capital on behalf of the reconditioners. Consequently, the market price of reconditioned totes typically reflects those of new totes in order to compensate reconditioners for their human and physical capital. Nevertheless, recon totes are in the same condition as a new tote and can be applied in many of the same ways as a new tote.

Leak Proof Testing

There are multiple ways in which a re-conditioner can conduct leak-proof testing. Leak-proof testing is to be conducted after a tote has been used, or every 2.5 years by the owner or lessee of the IBC. The general leak-proof test must be carried out for a suitable period of time using an air pressure gage no less than 20 kilo-pascals, or 2.9 pounds per square inch gage. Leak-proofness of IBC design types is determined by coating the seams and joints of the tote with a heavy liquid or oil suitable for detecting leaks. A tote will pass the test if the liquid or oil coating the container does not bubble up or remains undisturbed, because this signifies that there is no leakage of air from the IBC.

Leak Proof Testing Methods

Helium testing

The IBC is filled with at least one liter of inert helium gas, air tight closed, and placed in a testing chamber. The testing chamber must be evacuated down to 5 kilopascals, which equals an over-pressure inside of the IBC of 95 kilopascals. The test must take place over a long enough period of time to evacuate the testing chamber in order to determine if there is any leakage into or out of the container. A container will pass the test if there is no leakage of helium, and will fail the test if there is helium lingering in the testing chamber.

Pressure differential testing

The container will be restrained while either air pressure or a vacuum is applied internally. The container must be pressurized to the same requirements as the general leakproofness test. The way in which the container is restrained must have no effect on the results of the test. The test must take place over a long enough period of time in order to fully pressurize or evacuate the inside of the container in order to determine internal or external leakage. If there is no leakage into or out of the container, it will pass the inspection test.

Solution over seems testing

The container must be restrained while an internal air pressure is applied, and the method of restraint must not affect the test results. The exterior surface of all seams and welds are then coated with an oil or liquid solution. Then, the test is conducted for the necessary length of time to fully pressurize the container in order to determine if there is any air leakage from the container. A container will pass the test if there is no leakage of air from the container.

Reconditioning Process

There are three primary tests and inspections that an IBC must pass before it can be recertified under the Department of Transportation and UN standards: leak-proof testing, visual inspection, and repair. Tests and inspections are to be conducted after a tote has been used, and every 2.5 to 5 years while the tote is being used.

Visual Inspection

During a visual inspection, a re-conditioner must externally and internally inspect the IBC for cracks, warp-age, corrosion, or any other damage that may render the container unsafe for transport. If there are any apparent defects on the bottle or cage of the container, the re-conditioner is required to replace all of the damaged materials with satisfactory materials.

They then are required to make sure that the IBC is marked with proper labels and markings in accordance with DOT and UN regulations. If there are any required markings that are damaged, missing, or difficult to read, the re-conditioner is required to restore the markings and labels to their original condition.

One of the most important aspects of the visual inspection is to ensure that the IBC has the proper construction and design specifications are still in tact. For composite IBCs, they must ensure that the cage, bottle, and valves are intact and in satisfactory condition.

Visual Inspection Continued

This is one of the final steps of the reconditioning process because it requires leak-proof testing and visual inspection in order to be completed. If there was any observable damage or aspects of the IBC that were rendered unsafe for transport, the re-conditioner is required to restore them to their factory standards.

  • The purpose of the repairs is to ensure that the repaired IBC conforms to the original design type, and capable of withstanding the applicable design qualification tests. Once the IBC has been repaired, the re-conditioner is required to repeat the quality inspection and leak-proof testing necessary in order to ensure that the container is structurally sound and properly labeled.
  • This is the most important step in the reconditioning process because verifies that the tote is certified for reuse and has been properly marked and labeled.


Manufacturers and re-conditioners are required to mark every IBC with proper DOT and UN labeling in a durable and clearly visible manner. Labeling may come in the form of stickers or laminated paper that are directly attached to the exterior of the tote. The information may be applied on a singular line, or in a series of lines on the exterior of the container. The following information is required, in this specific order, in order to be in compliance with the DOT and UN:

The UN symbol & packaging ID code

  • Packaging type, the material, and its category- in that order.
  • OR the packaging group level equivalent
  • The packaging group and the gravity of the package rounded to the nearest tenth.

The Hydrotastic Test Pressure

  • The year the container was manufactured
  • The location where the container was manufactured
  • The code of the manufacturer