Reusable IBCs vs. Single-use IBCs

In a time where resources paths are deeply looked at, reusable IBCs could be an answer. Here we define reusable IBC as an Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) that has been designed for reuse: its has been built to last trip after trip up to the limit allowed by international regulations. Technical differences are mainly coming from the fact the VARIBOX reusable IBC is built from a different manufacturing technique: rotational-moulding, compared to standard IBC. The manufacturing technique used to produce reusables allows incorporating quality parts such as sensors or heavy-duty ball valve, due to higher wall thickness.

Rotomoulded reusable IBCs

From production until end-of-life management, reusable IBCs and standard IBCs are different. Firstly, the manufacturing process is different. Reusable IBCs are produced by rotational-moulding. This production technique provides our VARIBOX products with high chemical resistance and a superior mechanical resistance.

Secondly, Reusable IBCs can be used when reverse logistic is possible. To reuse an IBC, chemical distributors need to be able to get it back after it has been used and emptied. Nowadays, most chemical distributors already offer to take back empty IBCs to their customers. It is the only condition required to allow the implementation of reusable packaging alternative. However, there are some exceptions, this condition is flexible and a case by case approach can be applied e.g. we have seen cases where IBCs are reused, even if shipped overseas.

Thirdly, the end-of-life of reusable packaging is a key aspect to look at. After 10 years the main parts of a Varibox can be recycled. Our containers are made of a single-material, linear medium density polyethene, it gives a high chemical resistance and facilitates end-of-life recycling.

When is a reusable IBC the best option?

Reusable packaging provides its owners and users with great advantages, it is a  way to improve sustainability goals, safety and maintenance. Not all standard IBC can be replaced by a reusable IBC but when taking the decision to switch part of the IBC fleet to reusable ones, The list below shows the reasons to use a reusable IBC like the VARIBOX:

  • The desire of a safer chemical delivery. The VARIBOX is used to transport and store chemicals, as it is reusable it has been designed to last long and it is equipped with a heavy-duty ball valve which results in reduced chances of leakage from the valve. Leaking valves are often discovered on standard IBCs, especially when used more than once.
  • Desire to provide operators and users with a safer alternative than standard IBC when carrying hazardous chemicals. VARIBOX products feature automatic vents that do not require operators to open or close the lid manually, it decreases the risk of contact/inhaling toxic fumes.
  • Desire to improve the embedded corporative image shared by packaging. Standard IBCs are easily recognised but not differentiated, as they are not very customisable. These days, the packaging is such an important part of marketing and a great way to differentiate from the competition. With the possibility to engrave corporate logo on the VARIBOX SC and have all our VARIBOX products manufactured with corporate colours, it offers an effective differentiation.
  • Desire to improve the useful life of IBC used for corrosive materials. group II and III of class 8 (ADR). The reusable IBC alternative will, really, last 10 years. In addition, it provides users with improved operations due to the reusable IBC sturdiness.
  • Desire to offer chemical leasing or Chemical Management Service, which gives a strong incentive to manage the entirety of the chemical supply chain and life-cycle, in the most efficient way.  

Maximise the benefits of reusable IBCs

Chemical distributors, and our customers, want to get the biggest benefits from their purchase of reusable IBC. Durable and intensively reusable, our VARIBOX products are providing significant advantages compared to other options. Great strategies to keep in mind, when maximising the benefits from a reusable IBC, are listed below:

A strategy is to change standard IBC for reusable IBC per chemicals as; 

  • Corrosive chemicals e.g. Phosphoric acid
  • Hazardous chemicals for humans e.g. Sodium Hypochlorite, Ammonia, Hydrofluoric acid
  • Chemicals reducing standard IBC’s useful life e.g. Hydrochloric acid
  • Environmentally harmful chemicals e.g. Sodium hydroxide or Caustic soda
  • Chemicals that have stress cracking effect on polyethene e.g. Hydrogen peroxide
  • Chemicals that have an oxidising effect e.g. Nitric acid
  • Chemicals that have a high density e.g. Sulphuric acid

Another approach is to use reusable IBCs per customer. Using the reusable IBC alternative for customer delivered more regularly allows to make more trips per IBC and will decrease cost per trip or cost per rotation.

Increasing the number of trips per IBC, is a key strategy to adopt. It relies on the fact the reusable IBC is built to last, its useful life is not affected by the number of trips it has been used for.

More information

Do you have any specific questions regarding our reusable IBCs or do you want additional information? Please feel free to contact us by email at or by phone at +31 570 660 711