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Intermediate bulk containers (IBC) are industrial grade, reusable containers designed for handling, transporting and storing liquids, semi-solids or pastes. ICBs are gradually replacing the traditional barrels or drums when it comes to storing liquids. They are most commonly 1000 litres in capacity and are U.N. approved for transport of chemicals in the same way as drums are. The use of IBC containers is becoming more popular due to the host of advantages over the conventional 205 litre barrel or drum.  

Advantages of IBCs 


More chemicals can be stored in the space taken by a pallet of regular 205 litre drums. A 1000 litre IBC has a smaller footprint (1.0m x 1.2m) than 4 x 205 litre drums (1.2m x 1.2m), which provided only 820 litres storage. 


The IBC can be safety moved by forklift and is ‘one’ unit, unlike 4 drums on a pallet which need to be wrapped or strapped to prevent them falling off the pallet. 


The IBC has a large diameter screw cap on the top and a valve/outlet at low level making it easy to fill and empty contents. Drums have screw caps on the top only and will need to be manipulated into a horizontal position to empty the liquids by gravity/ through a tap. Manipulation the drum to the horizontal requires specialist handling equipment and it increases the risk of accidents and accidental spillage. 


IBC containers can be safely stacked on top of each other but need to be stored on IBC bunds or in bunded stores. Bunds will ensure an added level of protection if a spill occurs. The bunds should be able to contain 110% of the total container capacity which will mean that the bund should have a minimum capacity of 1100 litres.  

If you are storing multiple IBC containers in a bunded store, the bund capacity should be 110% of the capacity of your largest IBC or 25% of the total volume stores, which ever figure is the larger.  For example, in an 8 IBC Store, the bund should be 25% of 8000 litres = 2000 litres minimum. 

Selecting Chemical Storage Containers  

Before selecting the storage container that is right for you, ensure you have taken the factors outlined above into account. From space advantages to superior storage capacity, IBC’s offer a range of benefits over traditional barrels or drums. To ensure total safety when storing chemicals, you must also consider fire protection, location of your chemical store, ventilation, frost protection and personnel safety. To learn more about safely storing hazardous chemicals, check out our previous articles, or contact one of our experts today.