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Adhering to health and safety regulations is a primary concern of businesses when considering how to store large volumes of chemicals. To ensure safe storage and transportation of large volumes, businesses and organisations in the U.K. most frequently use storage vessels in the form of IBC tanks and chemical drums.

If you are struggling to decide precisely which of these storage solutions are best suited to your needs, read on to discover the key benefits, features, and uses of each type of chemical storage container.

IBC Containers & Tanks


IBC tanks are reusable vessels that are specifically constructed for the safe transport and storage of bulk liquids, including chemicals.  Intermediate bulk containers are composed of a durable galvanised outer steel frame that protects an inner section of high-density polyethylene. IBC tanks are stackable and they are typically mounted on a pallet for easy transportation using a forklift or a pallet jack.

The nature of the chemicals that can be stored in a given IBC tank depends on its packaging symbol. There are two symbols used to denote the type of chemicals that can be stored in IBC tanks:

  • UN: If an IBC tank is embossed with the letters “UN”, it is suitable for storing hazardous goods, such as corrosive chemicals.
  • Non-UN: IBC tanks that do not have UN approval are suitable for non-hazardous bulk chemical storage.

Key Benefits of IBC Containers:

  1. Space Efficiency

Intermediate bulk containers enable businesses to maximize the volume of liquid chemicals that can be stored in a given amount of space compared to chemical drums. This particular benefit is due to the cubic shape of the containers, which enables them to be stacked four-high.

  1. Save Time

IBC tanks are easy to load and unload because either a forklift or pallet jack can be used to complete both of these tasks in approximately twenty minutes. Unloading a truck with chemical drums is a more laborious task, which uses up valuable time that costs your business more money.

  1. Eliminate Waste

1000 Litres of chemicals can be stored in one IBC tank, which offers advantages in terms of eliminating waste while discharging and draining the containers. Five chemical drums are required to store the same amount of liquid as one intermediate bulk container;  draining five containers inevitably leads to more waste.

  1. Eco-friendly

In a world where businesses increasingly emphasize environmentally sustainable solutions, IBC containers offer an eco-friendly way to store chemicals. The composition of IBCs is such that they are fully recyclable; containers that have come to the end of their service life can be reprocessed into other useful products.

Chemical Drums

bunded chemical drum store

Chemical drums are cylindrical containers used for safe shipping and storing of bulk chemicals, among other hazardous substances. Chemical storage drums are typically composed of one of three types of material: steel, fiber (paperboard), or plastics.  Steel drums are the most popular choices for storing chemicals because they are more resistant to a disparate variety of corrosive chemicals.

There are two common types of chemical drums:

  • Open top: Open top (or open head) drums have a fully removable cover that is normally secured with a bolt. This type of drum is ideal for storing chemicals with high viscosity, powders and solids.
  • Closed top: Otherwise known as “tight head drums”, these storage containers have a secured, non-removable top, and they are better suited for storing low viscosity liquids.

Key Benefits of Chemical Drums:

  1. Durability

Steel chemical drums are extremely durable and are non combustible. These traits make steel drums ideal containers for storing chemicals because a strong storage container is of utmost importance for health and safety as well as ensuring no chemicals spillages occur in the workplace.

  1. Multiple Uses

Chemical drums are frequently cleaned and restored to a usable condition before being used again to store more chemicals or other materials.

  1. Easy Categorization

Businesses that need to store a large variety of chemicals in smaller volumes benefit from chemical drums because of their lower storage capacity compared to IBC containers. Each type of chemical can be easily labelled and stored by type in drums, without wasting space on half-full IBC tanks.

Safety Storage Systems are the U.K. experts in chemical storage solutions. For further information on chemical safety and storage best practices, read our blog. If you have any questions regarding our solutions or securing best practice chemical storage in the workplace,  contact our expert team online or by phone.