Ways to Recycle Bulk Bags

Flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs), or bulk bags as they’re commonly known, are a common sight in industrial settings. These durable containers make it easy to transport heavy loads safely, with their robust construction coping well with wear and tear. While most FIBCs are designed to be used multiple times, there will come a time when you need to think about FIBC recycling.

Thankfully, those looking for an eco-friendly and sustainable option are well catered to by FIBCs. Below, we’ll explore what FIBCs are made out of, how long you can reuse them for, and what you need to know about bulk bag recycling.
Small PP bags

What Are Bulk Bags Made Out Of?

Whether you know them as jumbo bags or FIBCs, bulk bags are made from incredibly durable and flexible material to carry heavy loads. In most cases, polypropylene is woven into the fabric of the bag to provide extra strength. This results in a robust mesh that makes FIBCs ideal for hauling heavy loads and repeated use.
FIBCs are commonly used in the food processing, agricultural, and construction industries. As such, these containers are designed to cope with significant stresses, such as handling by hoists, cranes, and other machinery.
Bulk bags come in all shapes and sizes, with the biggest bags able to handle loads of up to 4,000 pounds. Furthermore, they don’t require any additional protection before being put to use.

Are FIBCs Recyclable?

Can bulk bags be recycled? If your FIBC is a new design, then the answer is yes. Modern bulks are made from virgin polypropylene, with the overall design made almost entirely from plastic. This means that the average bulk bag is completely recyclable.

When To Reuse FIBC Bulk Bags?

Before you think about bulk bag recycling, it’s worth checking to see if your FIBCs can be reused. Many modern FIBCs are hard-wearing enough that they can be used to transport several loads before needing to be recycled.
However, you’ll need to check the safety factor (SF) first. A bag rated at a 5:1 SF is designed for single use only. Some bags, such as those made from woven polypropylene, typically have a 6:1 SF. Although this means your FIBC is designed for multiple uses, you’ll need to carry out regular cleaning and maintenance checks.

Before every use, your bulk bag should be completely emptied and checked for signs of interior damage. You also need to carry out a full clean. If your bag includes a liner, remove this and replace it with a new one. Other elements, such as labels, web ties, and cord locks also need to be replaced if possible. Ultimately, your aim is to recondition the FIBC as much as possible. As soon as you spot any signs of wear and tear, it’s time to think about bulk bag recycling. Keeping a maintenance and usage log will also let you know when it’s time for FIBC recycling.

For further guidance on determining whether used FIBC bags are a viable option for your business, we recommend exploring our informative article that offers valuable insights into the advantages and considerations associated with their use.

The Benefits of Recycling FIBC Bags

If you want to do your part for the environment, FIBC recycling is important. As with any polypropylene product, bulk bags take a long time to decompose naturally. If FIBCs are simply sent to landfill, harmful contaminants can leach into the environment over many years. Furthermore, bulk bag recycling means less carbon and non-renewables are required to produce new FIBCs in the first place.

The Importance of Sustainability

a girl holding a green leaf with both hands

Many industries still rely on materials like cardboard for shipping and handling materials (for example Post & Parcel). Although these materials serve a purpose, they’re not particularly durable and are usually only suitable for single use.

What’s more, as these materials are relatively inexpensive, they’re typically disposed of, rather than recycled.
If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly alternative, FIBCs are the way to go. The best bulk bags are designed for repeated use, keeping harmful chemicals out of landfill for longer. As well as being reusable, FIBC recycling means you can still commit to sustainability.

How To Recycle FIBC Bags

If you want to recycle bulk bags, you’ll first need to sort them and assign them a classification. An A-rating should be applied to relatively clean bags that still have their original color. Meanwhile, a B-rating should be applied to bags that are showing more visible signs of wear and tear.

Finally, use a C-rating for bulk bags that are in the worst condition. Once you’ve sorted bulk bags for FIBC recycling, you’ll need to sanitize them. A thorough cleaning will get rid of any remaining material.

Once a recycling facility receives your FIBCs, they’ll use a shredder to break the bags down into small flakes of plastic. Next, this shredded material will be separated based on size, shape, and color. At this point, any impurities will also be removed, rendering the material safe for recycling. These purified polymers can then be repurposed into usable material and used to manufacture new products.

How Do You Recycle Woven Polypropylene Bags?

Woven Polypropylene bulk bag recycling is fairly simple. Once your bags have reached the end of their life, they’re ready for collection or delivery to a repressing center. Bags are then sorted and cleaned to remove any harmful contaminants. As it’s the polypropylene that’s the target here, any additional elements like buttons and zippers are removed.

The remaining material is then shredded into flakes, before being moved to an extruder which melts the flakes at high heat. Eventually, these flakes condense to form small polypropylene granules. At this stage of the bulk plastic bag recycling process, unused polypropylene is often added to make the recycled material much stronger. The resultant material is then ready to be repurposed and create all manner of plastic products.


We hope you found this article informative and valuable, and we encourage you to visit our homepage to explore more about our FIBC solutions and discover how Codefine can assist you with recycling your FIBCs. If you have any further questions or would like additional details, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your nearest Codefine representative.

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