Key Differences: PP Bags vs. FIBC Bags

Choosing the right packaging for your products is crucial if you want to look after the bottom line and maintain a happy customer base. If you cut corners when choosing packaging, you not only run the risk of spoiling expensive assets but can also compromise your service level agreements with clients.

If you operate in an industry that depends on bulk packing, you’re probably weighing up the differences between PP bags and FIBC bags. Unsure of which type of bag to go for? Read on for everything you need to know.

What Are PP Bags?

PP bags are a popular packaging solution for many industries. Thanks to their woven construction, they’re incredibly durable, making them ideal for storing large volumes of building materials or perishables. As they’re made from polypropylene, PP bags are also surprisingly flexible, meaning they’ll hold their shape well, even after repeated use.

Additionally, PP woven bags are relatively easy to maintain. Provided they’re being used correctly and not to store hazardous or perishable materials, they can be thoroughly cleaned in between uses. Although less durable than their FIBC counterparts, PP bags can be enhanced with a laminated layer to make them more moisture resistant, broadening their applications.

PP FIBC bags are used across many industries. They’re a regular sight in the agricultural sector and used to store things like animal feed and harvested produce. PP bags are also sometimes used as food packaging, especially when storing large quantities of grains.

Polypropylene Bags
White bulk bag with blue straps. Has the text "Codefine International S.A." written on it

What Are FIBC Bags?

FIBC bags are a staple sight in the shipping and industrial storage sectors. These heavy-duty containers are designed to store and transport large quantities of material, ranging from foodstuffs to chemicals. Unlike PP bags, which are intended for smaller quantities, FIBCs are designed with bulk in mind.

FIBC bags also boast significant safety credentials, with certain types of FIBC able to withstand explosive sparks and eliminate fire risk. What’s more, you have a wide variety of designs to choose from, making them ideal for all manner of applications.

Regardless of the sector they’re used in, FIBC bags are popular thanks to their strength, functional design, and reusability. While hard case containers and pallets are still used as shipping solutions, they’re not particularly practical. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective way to store and haul goods, FIBCs are the obvious choice.

Material Composition

PP bags are made from many individual strands of polypropylene. These stands are then woven together, resulting in a lightweight material that still delivers exceptional strength. Despite being lighter than other packaging solutions on the market, the material composition of PP bags makes them an eco-friendly option. A good quality PP bag won’t stain, while polypropylene itself is remarkably breathable. It’s also incredibly easy to clean, allowing businesses to maintain high hygiene levels. Although FIBCs are the better choice for high-risk environments, PP bags can still withstand exposure to chemicals. Certain solvents, along with alkalis and acid, shouldn’t cause immediate damage to a PP bag.

As with PP bags, FIBCs are made from polypropylene. Despite being suitable for heavy loads, the polypropylene construction of an FIBC gives bulk containers plenty of flexibility. What’s more, it’s a low-density material, meaning it won’t lead to increased haulage and fuel costs. The polypropylene used to create FIBC bags will cope well with repeated use. Even if a bulk bag is used frequently, the polypropylene material won’t erode or degrade after being exposed to friction and the elements. What’s more, the polypropylene used to create FIBCs has an exceptionally tight weave, dramatically increasing the safe working load of the container.

Size and Capacity

Compared to the typical dimensions of FIBCs, PP bags are relatively small. However, many suppliers will provide a range of size and capacity options to suit the needs of every customer. Most PP bag suppliers will offer designs that can easily carry loads of 50 kilograms. Depending on your industry sector, this might not be sufficient for your needs, unless you’re happy to store materials in smaller quantities. What’s more, you’re fairly limited when it comes to shape and dimensions with PP bags. The majority of PP bags are cylindrical. While these are easy to fill and transport, they might not be suitable for use in your operation.

Need a bag that can cope with much heavier loads than a standard PP bag? FIBCs are the way to go. These containers are the preferred choice in the construction industry, with some FIBCs able to easily hold weights of up to 1000 kilograms. FIBCs are also rigorously tested to ensure their safe working load can be guaranteed. If it’s peace of mind and durability you’re searching for, make FIBC bulk bags your first port of call.

Construction and Design

We’ve already touched upon the relatively limited design of PP bags. While their cylindrical shape and seamless construction are fairly practical, there aren’t many modifications you can make to adapt PP bags for your needs. However, you can choose PP bags with additional linings to enhance durability or choose gusseted designs to expand the storage capacity of your PP bags.

With FIBC bags, you have a lot more choices. U-panel FIBCs are probably the most popular option. The square shape of these bags is preserved, even when the FIBC is completely filled. They’re also very hard-wearing, with a single piece of material used to create the base and partially form the sides. Two extra pieces of material are then used to create the remaining sides. Circular FIBCs are another solution. Unlike U-panel designs, these FIBCs are made with just two pieces of polypropylene.

You also have 4-panel FIBCs to consider. At first glance, they’re almost identical to U-panel ones, but the difference here is that they’re constructed with two additional pieces of material. Unfortunately, additional seams mean that material is likely to shift if a 4-panel FIBC is used for transporting goods. Finally, there are baffle bags. The baffles create added rigidity that makes containers easier to stack, while also giving storage capacity a slight boost.

FIBCs can be heavily customized. You can choose open-top designs if exposure isn’t a problem or a spout top that allows the container to be sealed shut once it’s been filled. Duffle tops are also common. Another staple of FIBCs are lift loops. These loops are exceptionally strong and are integrated into the seams of FIBCs themselves.

Applications and Use Cases

Thanks to their hard-wearing nature, PP bags can be used in a wide variety of situations. They’re regularly used in the agricultural sector, with farmers turning to them to haul animal feed, vegetables, fertilizer, and more. As PP bags aren’t toxic, they’re suitable for storing perishable items, without the risk of contamination. They can even be used to house quantities of fine grains or material like salt, without the risk of leakage.

More recently, PP bags have been used to help mitigate natural disasters like flood events. Used in place of traditional sandbags, PP bags are resistant to wear and tear and pose no risk to the environment. However, while PP bags have a huge range of applications, they’re small size ultimately makes FIBCs the better choice for large-scale operations.

FIBCs are just as widespread as PP bags. You’ll find them hard at work in the agricultural industry, with these heavy-duty bulk bags used to store dry produce, fine powders, and much more. Ventilated FIBCs are particularly useful for transporting perishable goods, helping prevent damage from condensation. The food processing industry also makes regular use of FIBCs. As these bulk bags can be heavily customized, they can be adapted to meet the needs of different processing operations. Another popular application for FIBCs is their use in the chemicals industry. However, any business looking to handle chemicals is best advised to use Type-C bags with antistatic properties.

Strength and Durability

PP bags don’t disappoint when it comes to durability, making them a suitable packaging solution for a huge variety of products. Once sealed, they also offer reliable protection against the elements. This makes them a good choice if items are intended for long-term storage or need to be transported across significant distances. Thanks to their woven construction, PP bags also have an impressive load-bearing capacity. Smaller PP bags can carry upwards of 1 kilogram, while larger ones can comfortably carry loads of up to 50 kilograms.

Because you have more scope for customization with an FIBC bag, they’re generally the better choice if you’re looking for strength and durability. As well as boasting much higher safe working loads than standard PP bags, the addition of lifting loops means you don’t have to worry about worker safety when handling them with cranes and forklifts. What’s more, they’re designed with heavy-duty use in mind. If you do want to push durability to its limits, make sure you’re upgrading your design of choice to a baffled FIBC.

Cost Considerations

This is another area where the differences between PP bags and FIBCs become more apparent. Generally speaking, PP bags are far more affordable than FIBCs. However, they’re not as versatile as FIBCs. PP bags can be modified to an extent with external branding, but you won’t find the same level of customization options as FIBC bulk bags. In certain scenarios, they can be a cost-effective choice, but they are more prone to tearing than their hardier counterparts.

If you’re looking for maximum value and the best in durability, FIBCs are the better solution. As well as being more robust than standard PP bags, FIBCs have multiple applications which means they can be put to use many times. What’s more, they can be heavily customized to accommodate the individual needs of the customer. Provided FIBC bags are properly handled and maintained, they can last a long time. That being said, you need to consider the safety rating of FIBCs. Only bags with a safety rating of 6:1 or higher should be used more than once.

Environmental Impact

As they’re both made from polypropylene, PP bags and FIBCs are very eco-friendly. Polypropylene itself is a relatively low-impact material. It doesn’t require extensive natural resources and energy to produce, especially when you compare it to other materials like jute, canvas, and cotton. However, polypropylene polymer isn’t biodegradable. That being said, it can be readily recycled and repurposed into other plastic products at a later point.

FIBCs are a first-rate choice if you’re looking to improve the green credentials of your operation. As they’re built to last and, in some cases, can be reused, you’re generating far less waste than if you were using other packaging solutions. Once your FIBCs have reached the end of their lifespan, they’re ready to be recycled. Some businesses may already have in-house recycling processes in place, while others may wish to turn to their original supplier to take care of collection and recycling.

PP Bags or FIBC Bags?

Both PP bags and FIBC bags score top marks for affordability and durability. However, you need to consider your individual requirements before choosing between them. Looking for a high-quality packaging solution to store smaller quantities of perishables or raw materials? PP bags are a solid option. Do you operate in the construction, mining, or agricultural sectors? FIBCs might be a better-fit thanks to their enhanced load-bearing capacities, reinforced designs, and scope for customization. Rather than settle on the cheapest option, make sure you’re weighing up the suitability of each. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to get in touch with your supplier for more information.

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