The History of the Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container

IBC_568Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers (FIBCs) are a popular option for transporting and storing granular and powdered products from a wide range of industries. From food processing to rubber reinforcing, FIBCs truly have a varying client-base. But they weren’t always as useful and it took a little bit of time to pick up speed, but when crisis hit the global economy back in the disco days it really gave FIBCs a chance to prove what they’re capable of. With that, we present to you the history of the FIBC.

The 1940s and Humble Beginnings

Though there is no agreement on just when FIBCs came into existence, it’s beyond debating that they were regularly used in the ‘40s. Back then, in the time before advances in weaving and the development of polypropylene, the capacity and strength of these bags were greatly diminished compared to the ones commonly used today. The first models were made from PVC rubber which provided a certain amount of flexibility, but not as much as we have today, and this made its usability significantly less. In fact, it was mostly used to transport carbon black to rubber processing facilities to aid in the reinforcement of rubber.

20 Years Ahead and 50 Years Ago

In the ‘60s came the development of polypropylene, a durable polymer used today in many industries and products, from automotive components to loudspeakers. It was the unique composition of polypropylene that made it unusually tough when faced against a most chemical solvents, bases and acids. This new design saw FIBCs become adopted by many oil and chemical companies to both store and move fine powders.

Even so, it wasn’t until the ‘70s that FIBCs really came into their own. With the oil crisis in full swing, the expansion and development of the Middle East became a top priority of the oil-consuming world and FIBCs were called to action. At the peak of its performance, FIBCs were being used to transport about 50,000 metric tons of cement every week to aid in the building process.


From 50,000 tons a week to ¼ billion tons a year, FIBCs sure have come a long way. No longer are they only used in industrial shipping and storage—today you’ll see giant bags of flour nestled up next to cereal and powdered chemicals (all in separate containers, of course). The flexibility of FIBCs gives them a wide range of uses and each decade seems to find new ways to give it purpose. But it’s easy to see why: it’s durable, spacious, airtight, secure, and cost-efficient. A single bag can carry up to two metric tons across three cubic meters and that’s for almost any granular or powdered product. Right now, you’ll see animal feeds, granular and powdered chemicals, cereal, flour, cement and so much more shipped on a regular basis, but the bag is still being worked on. In fact, currently FIBCs are being developed to not only hold but also filter fluid products, opening up a whole new horizon of uses for the not-so-little bag that could.

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