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Custom Bulk Bags (CBB) is a leading manufacturer of flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs) in South Africa. These versatile products are highly durable and can be reused multiple times before being recycled. As such, we are often asked about the average shelf life of a bulk bag. This depends on various factors, including the quality of the woven polypropylene fabric and the treatment of the bag during use.

There is no single length of time that defines the shelf-life of a bulk bag; we do not sell our products with an expiration date or a time limit on their use. However, FIBCs do have a certain period of time where they are perfectly safe and usable, after which they should be recycled and replaced with new ones. CBB does not recommend using a bulk bag more than 10 times, or after a period of five years.

Each company is responsible for its own bulk bags. While CBB does provide guidelines for transporting, storage and use of FIBCs, it is up to the customer to follow these guidelines in order to extend the usability of their bulk bags. Similarly, other manufacturers of these products may have different guidelines for use and suggested shelf-lives, so always consult with your FIBC manufacturer to see what they recommend.

Variables affecting the shelf-life

While five years is about the average lifespan of a bulk bag, there are several factors to consider that can alter this number. Firstly, the safety factor rating plays an important role. CBB bulk bags are manufactured with a minimum 5:1 safety factor rating, which means that they can safely hold at least five times their intended load before breaking or ripping. The higher the safety factor rating, the longer the shelf-life.

Secondly, the storage conditions of the bulk bags are important. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can degrade the woven polypropylene fabric over time, making it brittle. FIBCs that are stored in the sun will have a shorter shelf-life and those that are coated with a UV inhibitor will have an extended lifespan.

Handling methods directly affect the wear and tear on a bulk bag, so the way in which these products are handled can affect the shelf-life too. Dragging a FIBC across a warehouse floor will obviously wear down the bottom panel quickly. Likewise, handling the bags in such a way that they rub against each other or against other objects will shorten their lifespan, especially when abrasive materials are stored inside the FIBCs.

Lastly, the manufacturing quality of a bulk bag is an important consideration. Ask your bulk bag manufacturer what certifications and accreditations they hold. CBB holds ISO 9001 certifications for quality management systems, so our products are guaranteed to meet international standards for quality and durability.

How to assess the quality of a bulk bag

We’ve covered this topic in a previous blog post, but the best way to determine whether a FIBC is still usable is to conduct periodic inspections. Check the panels for any signs of rips, holes or loose threads. These bags need to be discarded and recycled immediately. If the bag looks strong and in good condition, then it will be ok to reuse it again.

In order to extend the shelf-life of your FIBCs, they must be stored in a cool and dry location, out of direct sunlight. Any moisture can lead to mould and the degradation of the woven fabric. Make sure that there are no rodents at your storage facility; rats and mice can chew through the fabric to get into the materials stored inside the FIBC. For more information about our bulk bags, please contact us today. 


Custom Bulk Bags is a leading South African manufacturer of woven polypropylene bags for various industries, such as mining, chemicals and food. We are able to produce over 3.5-million bulk bags per year, keeping our customers in stock at all times. Our bags adhere to the highest levels of quality as a result of our stringent in-house testing and quality control programmes.
Custom Bulk Bags holds ISO 9001 certification and we currently have a number of UN-certified designs. We are a Level 3 B-BBEE manufacturer and supplier and fall under the ownership structure of Deneb Investments Limited. For more information on our products, contact Follow us on Facebook for our latest news and industry insights.