Shipping Hazardous Materials in IBC Containers: What You Need to Know

closeup of bulk container for liquid


When shipping hazardous materials, you’ll need to follow numerous regulations and meet many requirements. These regulations and requirements are in place to ensure the safety of everyone involved in transporting hazardous materials and to prevent dangerous spills during transit. Intermediate bulk containers — or IBCs — are commonly used to ship hazardous materials because they are affordable and feature a modular design that makes them easy to stack and secure for transportation.

If you are shipping hazardous materials in IBC containers, here a few things you need to know.

IBC Code and Regulations

Under U.S. code 49 CFR 173.35, there are strict regulations for transporting hazardous materials in IBCs. Each container must conform to requirements set forth by these regulations, and no one is permitted to accept hazardous materials for shipment in IBCs unless all requirements have been met.

All IBCs, aside from those made from multiwall paper, may be used and reused to transport hazardous materials. If an inner liner is needed, the liner must be replaced prior to each use. Before the container can be filled and shipped, it must be thoroughly inspected by the person or company filling it. It must be free from contamination, corrosion, cuts, cracks and any other type of damage that may make it incapable of passing the design test to which it is marked and certified.

stack of white ibc tanks

The IBC must also bear certain markings, including the United Nations symbol, the code number that designates the container’s design type, a letter that identifies the performance standard for which the container has been successfully tested, the month and year of manufacture, the country that authorized the allocation of the mark, the name and address or symbol of the manufacturer, the maximum stacking load in kilograms and the maximum gross mass, also in kilograms.

After an IBC has been filled, no hazardous material can be on the outside of the container, and each container must be fastened securely or contained within the transportation unit. If an IBC is used to transport solids that are likely be become liquids at temperatures encountered while in transit, the container must also be sufficient for containing the hazardous material in its liquid state.

Labeling Requirements for IBCs Containing Hazardous Materials

If you plan on shipping or transporting hazardous materials in intermediate bulk containers, you will need to buy hazmat placards and labels. There are a few options for labeling IBCs containing hazardous materials, and it is extremely important to choose an option that meets the requirements set forth by law.

flammable warning label

If you are using an IBC with a capacity of less than 1.8 m3, you may adhere a hazmat label on one side near the identification number and proper shipping name. While more burdensome, all bulk packages including IBCs containing hazardous materials can be shipped with placards and identification numbers displayed on all four sides of the container. The identification number must be displayed near or on the hazmat placards. Hazardous material labeling is serious business, so if you have any doubts about the requirements, it is best to consult with an expert to make sure your shipment complies.

Safely Transfer Hazardous Materials with IBCs

Intermediate bulk containers are widely used for transporting hazardous materials, and for good reason. They are an affordable solution that enables shippers to safely transport a wide range of hazardous materials from one place to another. Their modular design makes them easy to stack and secure, and they can be reused several times as long as they are not damaged.

When shipping hazardous materials in IBCs, it is extremely important to familiarize yourself with all applicable laws and regulations. They are strictly enforced to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the handling of hazardous materials and to prevent potentially devastating spills and accidents. If you fail to abide by the laws and regulations set forth by the Department of Transportation, you could face stiff fines and penalties.

At Air Sea Containers, we have everything you need to safely and legally transport hazardous materials in IBCs. From intermediate bulk containers and accessories to hazmat labels and placards, we offer a wide range of supplies for shipping hazardous materials. Contact us today to learn more.


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