IBC Tote Guide in The United States

Posted by ReUsed USA
On November 30, 2022

Guide For Used IBC Totes: | Size | Type | Shipping | Cost 


With 275 and 330 being the most common sizes, IBCs range from 110 to 550 gallons. A typical size is 45″L x 45″W, which is standardized internationally. The stackable units feature pallet / forklift access and are engineered for mobility. The IBC specification is designed to accommodate both liquid and solid materials in logistic scaling.

Used IBC Advantages

Standard Dimensions Range of bulk volume Simple Ease of integration Life expectancy Reliable Consistent Designed to last for a long time A resistant material Adaptable Easily reusable A cost-effective solution Recyclable

IBC Tote Size in The USA

IBC Tote Guide USA

Featuring a rectangular footprint with an easy-to-integrate shape, intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) are easy to maneuver in multiple directions. There are three different ways in which IBC containers can be accessed by forklifts and pallet jacks: 2-way, 3-way, and 4-way. In order to ensure acceptance, versatility, and integration, IBCs have been designed with bases that maintain the container’s footprint and dimensions within a standard, world-wide pallet size.

In addition to manufacturing IBCs in capacities from 55 gallons up to 550 gallons, the company also maintains IBC footprint specifications. For all IBC containers except caged poly IBC totes, an increase in volume is accompanied by an increase in height alone, with a small change in pallet base size.

Common IBC Pallet Dimensions

In addition to being stackable up to their designed weight limit, IBC totes can be handled with forklifts and pallet jacks. As a result of their common design characteristics, IBCs can be efficiently integrated into logistics streams involving product filling, packaging, transit, transfer, and dispensing.

  • A typical IBC tank base measures 48″ long x 40″ wide. There is 13 sq. ft. of common pallet area on each tank. This is the most widely accepted internationally-accepted pallet size.

  • The base area of an IBC is approximately 45′′ x 45′′. Common IBC base area: 14.06 square feet

  • IBC models range from 45 inches long to 45 inches wide to 50 inches high. The average volume of an IBC is 58.59 cubic feet.

A variety of size dimensions and custom options are available for intermediate bulk containers. Your individual use case and shipping requirements will determine which IBC option is right for you.

Pallets and forklifts for IBCs

With integrated pallet bases, IBC containers can be moved 2-way, 3-way, or 4-way using forklifts or pallet jacks. Depending on the IBC model, tool access varies. 

A widemouth IBC, a square stackable IBC, and a square stackable IBC

  • 2-Way Pallet Jack; 4-Way Forklift


HDPE IBCs and caged IBCs

  • A four-way pallet jack and a four-way forklift


Carbon Steel, Stainless Steel IBCs


  • 3-Way Pallet Jack; 3-Way Forklift


The following is a list of the most common volume, type, materials, and costs of IBC tanks


Steel and Plastic Composite IBC totes are available in HDPE, Carbon Steel, Stainless Steel, or a Steel and Polyethylene Composite material. It is dependent on the IBC model and its gallon capacity when it comes to pricing for IBC containers. Prices range from $30 to $3,000 USD.

The most common volume of an IBC is:
  • 275 gallon and 330 gallon


Most Common IBC Type:
  • Composite, steel-caged poly totes due to their low cost and versatility.


Most Common IBC Material:
  •  HDPE is used in composite and all plastic IBCs because of its durability and compatibility.
Most Common Food Grade IBCs:
  • Stainless steel metal
  • Rebottled
  • New



Plastic IBC Totes

Poly Caged Totes

A composite caged IBC tote provides a versatile, low-cost option for chemical industry, solvent, acid, caustic, detergent, ag crop chemical, and food industry ingredient applications. In addition to storing and providing water, caged IBCs can be used repeatedly with inert, non-sensitive commodities.

Plastic IBCs
  • IBC tanks made from polyethylene (HDPE) are rotationally molded to a 1/2-inch thickness. Among its many advantages are durability, reusability, and resistance to corrosion and other chemical attacks. The HDPE IBC is well-suited to hazardous, non-hazardous materials, chemicals, petroleum products, and water. In contrast to poly caged IBCs, Excalibur totes have been designed to be more durable, modern, and convenient.


Carbon and Stainless Steel IBC Totes

With the longest average service life, metal IBCs – carbon steel and stainless steel – are the strongest and most resistant models in the industry. Chemicals, solvents, oils, lubricants, and lubricants are often stored in carbon steel IBCs.

Due to their intensive hygiene capabilities, stainless steel IBC models are widely used in the food, beverage, vineyard, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries. The oil and gas industry extensively uses metal IBCs due to their corrosion resistance and UL142 and NFPA 30 certifications for flammable, combustible materials up to Class I.

Chemical Handling & Material Specifications for IBCs

Depending on the tank’s material of manufacture, an IBC tank’s overall chemical/commodity resistance will vary. To ensure service longevity, product security, and worker/environmental safety, it is always critical to verify the suitability of IBCs and chemicals.

It is possible to select the appropriate IBC material based on the needs and characteristics of each individual case. When it comes to chemical resistance, metal isn’t always the best product. HDPE IBC containers are recommended for HCl applications rather than metal IBC containers when handling hydrochloric acid (HCl; muriatic acid). For more information on the chemical use of the different types of IBC material, see the following.

  1. IBCs are made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE)
  2. Carbon Steel IBC
  3. Stainless Steel IBC


IBC Lids, Inlets, and Outlets | Usage Dimensions

The inlets, outlets, and lids of IBC containers are available in a variety of sizes. Inlet and outlet sizes do not change as tank capacity increases for a single IBC model.


A 6 inch inlet/fill port is the most common size for IBCs. There may be some overlap between container types when it comes to the size of the inlet. IBC inlet sizes include 6.5″, 7″, 18″, 20″, and 22.5″.

In poly caged totes, ultratainer IBCs, and excalibur totes, the most common lid is a vented, 6″ screw cap. Various types of IBC lids are available, including: heavy duty screw caps; GEM caps; polypropylene vented screw caps; and wide-mouth threaded, vented manways with bolts.

Discharge Valves and Outlets

There are two commonly used outlet standards for IBCs: 2′′ discharge ball valves and 2′′ fast disconnect couplers with camlocks. Different materials can be used to manufacture IBC outlets to meet the compatibility requirements of different applications. Among the other options for IBC outlets are:

  1. Polypropylene, stainless steel, PVC, and CPVC bulkhead fittings are available

  2. Bolted Bulkheads

  3. Discharge Ball Valves are PVC, CPVC, stainless steel

  4. IBC Hoses (in PVC, XLPE)

  5. IBC Usage Pumps (in gas, electric, top/bottom unloading)


IBC Shipping and Handling

IBC Shipping and Handling

IBC Shipping and Handling


When filled or empty of cargo, IBC totes are designed for stacking for storage, transport, and operation. The majority of stackable intermediate bulk containers can be stacked 2 to 3 high, and in some cases up to 4 high. It is usually recommended to stack IBCs 2 high, while smaller capacity IBCs should be stacked 3 high.

IBCs with large capacities can be stacked three high when empty; IBCs with small capacities or low weight can usually be stacked four high when empty. According to the UN/DOT label, IBC containers should be stacked on the same model for the greatest security, especially during transit.

Factors of IBC Tote Stacking
  1. Model of the IBC;

  2. Capacity of the total volume of an IBC tank;

  3. The size of the IBC, and whether it is full or empty;

  4. Environmental conditions, such as high wind exposure or seismic activity, may exist in the local area.


How to Stack IBC Totes

When empty, caged poly IBC totes with 275 – 330 gallon capacities can be stacked four high in a storage environment; when filled with maximum cargo weight, they can be stacked two high. Due to a growing collective tank height and weight, as well as a rising center of gravity, larger capacity IBC tanks, 275 gallons and above, are generally only approved for three empty stacks, two full stacks.

4 high stacking of IBCs

IBCs with capacities ranging from 100 to 220 gallons and empty poly caged totes are often stacked four (4) high. If the IBCs are filled, professional judgement and/or engineering support are always required when stacking them four high.

Stacking when Filled with Product 

When the total payload is equal to the IBC’s maximum gross mass, caged, poly IBCs with capacities of 275 to 330 gallons can be stacked 2 high. Due to the composite engineering of caged totes, they stack differently from other IBCs.

Each caged IBC tote has additional labels specifying the total load for stacking tests. Examples of IBCTanks’ models:

  • 275 Gallon Caged Tote: Check Label

  • 330 Gallon Caged Totes: Check Label

Depending on the manufacturer or model type of the IBC, these specifications may vary. Stacking is not recommended if the stacking IBC tote has a cargo weight that exceeds the bottom IBC’s labeled test load.


There is a transit permit attached to every IBC tank that specifies the IBC’s total stacking test load, as well as the maximum permissible gross mass. IBC manufacturers’ information appears immediately after these values on UN/DOT labels. In accordance with CFR Title 49, Subtitle B, Chapter 1, Part 178 codes, UN/DOT labels are generated.

IBC Stacking Test Load:

Stackable IBCs are rated for stacking up to the stacking test load value of our 120 gallon tote example

IBC Maximum Permissible Gross Mass:

This is the maximum scale weight for the entire IBC and inner cargo; our example IBC has a maximum scale weight of

Use the UN/DOT label on the IBC to find the reported stacking test load value for that particular IBC model in order to determine the number of IBC containers that can be stacked. For converting kilograms to pounds, multiply the stacking test load by 2.2. It is possible to determine the acceptable stacking amount by reviewing the IBC’s rated test load and ensuring environmental safety. Further information regarding IBC markings can be found on the permits for individual IBCs.

IBC Stacking Quantity Calculation

The stacking test load of an IBC is divided by the IBC’s maximum gross mass value as shown on the UN/DOT permit label in order to determine the number of IBCs that can be stacked when fully filled. IBC models and their rated test loads will determine the number of IBCs that can be stacked at a time. Test ratings for our 120 gallon IBC indicate that it can remain upright when fully loaded up to four high (mathematically, this is: 9,816 pounds times 2,063 pounds equals 4.76, or four IBCs).

An example 120 gallon full and stacked four high would be approximately 8,252 pounds and 11.5 feet high, a potentially hazardous worker situation unless the IBCs are restrained, contained, stored, or are in a controlled environment. It is always advisable to use professional judgment when stacking filled IBCs.

How to Stack IBCs for Transit?

Stacking IBC totes two high during transit effectively doubles a transport’s payload capacity. IBC models, their capacities, corresponding heights, the test load ratings of IBCs, and the full size of the transportation vehicle will determine how many IBCs will stack for transport. It is always a good idea to secure IBC transport stacks, keep them contained, and prevent them from being moved. Common, average-sized freight trucks can transport smaller, low-height IBCs — typically 110 to 250 gallons — three high. A 2 high transport is recommended for IBCs that have a volume over 250 gallons. IBCs should always be stacked in such a way as to ensure their stability, integrity, and safety, especially during transportation.

How many IBC Bulk Containers fit On Standard on standard Semi Trucks

It is possible to transport up to 60 intermediate bulk containers within a common 53ft container. A total volume capacity of 25,200 gallons is possible for cargo bed freight trucks. Knowing the transport vehicle and the IBC size dimensions and stacking capability is necessary to calculate the payload potential of an IBC fleet. Always properly secure your IBC transport fleet.

Transporting 275 & 330 Gallon Recon IBC Totes

Totes made of poly cages are 45/48 inches long, 40 inches wide, and 46/53 inches high (275/330 gallons). On average, 53 feet is the size of these dimensions. A semi-trailer could fit up to two rows of 15 caged IBCs stacked two high:

  • Total Caged IBCs in 53ft Truck: 60 IBCs

  • Total IBC Volume: 15,000 – 20,000 Gallons

  • Total Cubic Volume: 2,875 – 3,533 cu.ft.


The transport of 250 to 350 gallon HDPE / metal IBC tanks

Low capacity and metal IBCs can stack two high during transport. The dimensions of these containers range from 48 inches long, 42 inches wide, and 35 inches high.

  • Total 250-350 Gal. IBCs in 53ft Truck: 28 – 56 IBCs

  • Total IBC Volume : 7,000 – 19,600 Gallons

  • Cubic Volume Total: 1,143 – 3,070 Cu.Ft.


Transporting 110 to 250 Gallon Small Height IBCs

Small height, low capacity IBC tanks range from 110 to 250 gallons. Low end IBC volumes have heights limited enough for potential 3 high stacking during transport, up to 250 gallons can stack 2 high for:

  • Total 110-250 Gal IBCs in 53ft Trucks: 50 – 84 IBCs

  • Total IBC Volume: Up to 14,000 Gallons

  • Cubic Volume Total: Up to 2,200 Cu.Ft.


HDPE/Metal IBCs of 450 to 550 gallons

There is no way to stack 2-high, large capacity IBCs within traditional, covered transportation vehicles because their tank heights are too large. In this group of IBCs, the dimensions range from 48′′L x 42′′W x 59′′H up to 57′′L x 49′′W x 90.25′′H. IBCs weighing 450 to 550 gallons:

  • 450-550 Gallon in 53 ft Dry van: 30 IBCs

  • IBC Volume: up to 16,500 Gallons

  • Cubic Volume Total: up to 4,276 Cu.Ft.

IBC VS Metal/Fiber DRUMS 

The traditional shipping drum is a 55 gallon container whose dimensions allow only four (4) drums per standard pallet, maximizing drum-pallet volume capacity to 225 gallons. Generally speaking, IBCs can hold 110 to 550 gallons, which is up to two times (2x) more than the maximum capacity of drum-pallets, also meaning twice as much shipping space is available to ship the cargo.

Comparatively, 110 to 550 gallons of IBCs fit on 0.5 to 2.5 pallets the equivalent of 2 to 10 standard shipping drums. It means that a single, 550 gallon IBC container could replace 2.5 pallets of 55 gallon drums and provide 550 gallons of shipping capacity.

55 Gallon Drums vs. Poly Steel Caged IBC Totes

Caged IBCs with capacities of 275 gallons and 330 gallons are the most commonly used IBC types and capacities. The top and bottom access ports of poly caged IBCs make it easier to fill and discharge products than standard 55 gallon drums. A 55 gallon drum’s shipping dimensions are as follows:

  • 275 gallon IBCs = Five 55 gallon drums

  • 330 gallon IBCs = six (6) 55 gallon drums



Various sizes, capacities, and prices are available for intermediate bulk containers and other common portable tanks. IBC totes are compared to other portable tanks in the following table.


From purchase to disposal, common transit containers’ freight costs per gallon are directly related to their complete service life. Due to its returnable, reusable, and long-lasting engineering, IBC containers typically have longer service lives than other portable containers.

The IBC tanks are a cost-effective, well-designed, reliable, multi-use transit container that is designed for years of repeated use and handling, considering company logistics, economics, and shipping safety. A variety of gallon sizes, dimensions, and materials are available in IBC totes, making them a more cost-effective alternative to other common portable containers. Choose the IBC container that best suits your application needs.

 IBC Model Specs

IBC models listed below have the following volume capacities, pallet base dimensions, tank total height, and weight:

  • IBC Totes made from galvanized steel and caged

  • Stackable square standard

  • Square stackable premium

  • Widemouth Square Stackable

  • Ultratainer

  • Widemouth Ultratainer

  • Voyager Totes

  • Voyager Plus

  • Voyager XL

  • Megatainer

  • Excalibur IBC Totes

  • Stainless Steel

  • Carbon Steel

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