The industrial bulk packaging market has been growing steadily over the past 5 years, and is expected to continue growing into the foreseeable future. Market research conducted by Smithers found that demand for bulk packaging is forecasted to continue increasing at a rate of 3.4% per year through 2020. Further, research conducted by Fredonia Group shows that the rate at which the bulk packaging market is growing is higher now than it was just 10 years ago. Among all industrial packaging products, IBCs have exhibited the fastest rate of growth. IBC growth can be contributed to several factors, including a need for high performance packaging solutions, a growth in the domestic chemicals industry, an optimal packaging design, and an increase in sustainability initiatives.
IBCs, the fastest growing bulk packaging product, are expected to account for more than 15% of all industrial packaging used by 2020. Growth in the usage of IBCs is in part being driven by an increased use in larger, higher value containers that offer superior performance and are more cost effective over the long term. Stainless steel IBCs are extremely durable, and last years, even decades, when maintained properly. IBCs sport attractive features such as a sloped bottom and the ability to fill the tote without removing the lid. These features are beneficial in that they help to promote complete drainage and reduce contamination, providing IBCs with superior performance over packaging alternatives such as drums.
IBC growth can also be credited to a recent increase in domestic chemical production. The chemical and pharmaceutical industries account for more than 30% of industrial packaging sales to end users. Further, the chemicals market accounts for more than three quarters of the steel drum and IBC use. As the Fredonia group found, “the development of abundant natural gas supplies is expected to fuel increased investment in US chemical production as well as that of related downstream goods, which will have a positive impact on rigid bulk packaging demand”. With a strong domestic chemicals market, demand for the IBC industry is expected to continue increasing.
In highly competitive markets, companies are always facing pressures to reduce costs. The IBC is quickly gaining recognition for the benefits they possess in reducing wasted space. The cubic design of an IBC means that one 350-gallon IBC can hold the same volume of liquid as six round drums, while only taking up the same amount of space as four drums. The cubic design further promotes efficient use of space by allowing the IBCs to be stacked, which, when empty, can go up to four high in a warehouse and will double stack on a standard trailer.
Companies are also realizing savings through sustainability initiatives, and many companies are now embracing the "green" moto: reduce, reuse, recycle. IBCs, as we’ve already covered, can be reused hundreds of times and last many years. Reusing packaging helps to conserve the valuable and finite resources of raw materials that are used to produce packaging products. IBCs, especially stainless steel, can be effectively recycled at the end of their life and used to make new steel products. Research done by Smithers found that stainless steel is an excellent material for companies looking to go green:
"The recycling of steel has also been proven in numerous studies to be less harmful to the environment than the extraction of virgin ore. The recycling process significantly reduces air and water pollution, as well as saving production phase energy and water, and lowering mining waste.
This trend will be most pronounced in metal packaging, as it has the ability to maintain integral strength through successive stages of recycling. This constitutes a major advantage over alternative materials, such as plastic and fibreboard, which require a degree of virgin material to maintain the desired performance."
With the numerous benefits of using IBCs for industrial packaging, it seems safe to say that the future is bright. IBCs have demonstrated numerous benefits over industrial packaging alternatives such as drums. There is a positive forecast for the IBC market as companies increasingly are beginning to realize the benefits of using IBCs for their bulk liquid storage needs.
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Topics: industry spotlight