Super sacks or bulk bags are also known as the abbreviation FIBCs – flexible intermediate bulk containers.
These are commercial containers used for transporting and keeping large amounts of goods. They were developed to be a more cost-effective and also an environmentally-efficient alternative, as super sacks are used for numerous purposes and materials for the long term. For instance, one bulk bag can replace a pallet of sacks, which means a significantly smaller price tag.
Generally, bulk bags were made of PVC rubber, however, modern FIBCs are produced from a woven polypropylene (PP) material. It is a type of light-weight polymer that dries rapidly and resistant to mildew as it does not absorb water. Among its advantages is also moderate resistance to heat, shrinking and stretching.
Super sacks are actively used in many industries due to their strength, durability, reliability, and eco-friendliness. However, to keep bulk bags sustainable, companies and manufacturers should be cognizant about reusing and recycling.
Reusing super sacks
FIBC’s could be reused if they have been treated properly, however they should be multi-trip bulk bags with a 6:1 Safety Factor rating. Reusing the bag is a definite must if you want to reduce your overall waste. Between uses, make sure to inspect the bags for signs of wear and tear. Remember: bulk bags can hold over 4000 lbs, and you definitely do not want that spilling all over your floor! Cleaning out the bags between uses is also a good idea. This helps to ensure there’s no accidental contamination. Reuse of bulk bags benefits a circular economy and sustainability due to reducing the amount of waste and also dependence on raw materials. Unfortunately, sooner or later you will come to the point when a bulk bag no longer can be reused. It means that it’s time for recycling.
Recycling bulk bags
Super sacks are recyclable as a lot of them are made from virgin PP, a common plastic that could be used for producing various other plastic products, such as bins, trays, battery cables, brooms, brushes and even vehicle parts.
Bags for recycling are classified by different grades: Grade A (completely clean and white, but allows for colored stitching and handles); Grade B (not so clean, mainly white with minimal coloring); and Grade C (dirty or colored bags).
How FIBC’s are recycled
1. Collection. Like with various other industrial plastics, the recycling process starts with the proper collection. For easy collection and best price, the material should be compacted into bales.
2. Sorting and cleaning. As bulk bags are commonly used to carry a wide range of materials, such as sand, chemicals, and fertilizers, it is necessary to clean them thoroughly prior to being recycled. All zips and buttons are also removed.
3. Shredding. Next, the bulk bags are shredded into small flakes, making them less complicated to handle for further processing. Special recycling equipment at iSustain Recycling, such as shredders and granulators, have sharp industrial blades that cut rotationally to chop plastic down.
4. Separation. During the separation process, plastic polymer is differentiated from contaminants and can be separated by size, shape, color, melting point, and even the ability to absorb light.
5. Compounding. This is the final stage, which includes putting the regrinds through an extruder, where they are melted down at 240 degrees Celsius into uniformed beads, also referred to as pellets or granules. The mixture is strengthened through the addition of virgin polypropylene.
A selection of new products can be made from the bulk bags, as the recycling process could be repeated again and again since polypropylene can be safely recycled many times. If your company needs recycling and waste services, call iSustain Recycling to get professional assistance with establishing your own bulk bag recycling program.