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When it comes to bulk commodities, selecting the appropriate packaging solution is essential. Making the incorrect decision might result in greater expenses, ineffective handling and safety risks for your employees. In certain cases, bulk bags may be a better option than steel drums.

Custom Bulk Bags is a leading manufacturer and supplier of bulk bags in South Africa. We produce up to 3.5 million bulk bags per year. Our products can safely hold between 500kg and two tonnes of material per bag, depending on your specifications. These products are extremely lightweight, foldable and durable, making them more effective than steel drums for certain applications.

Are bulk bags truly environmentally-friendly

Advantages of bulk bags

Compared to steel drums, bulk bags are more convenient, cost-effective and space-efficient. Their attributes make them a favoured option in sectors such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture. They can accommodate varying quantities of materials and are available in a variety of sizes and designs, which is why they are far more customisable than steel drums.

One of the key benefits of bulk bags is safety. Several safety measures, such as inner liners and closures, are built into bulk bags to reduce the possibility of spills and leaks, which can be extremely important when handling hazardous goods.

They are lightweight and easy to handle during loading, unloading and transportation, since they are more flexible and lighter than metal drums. This may result in less physical strain and fewer workplace accidents.

Why you need to consider automation for bulk bag filling

Bulk bags are space-efficient compared to empty metal drums, which are impossible to compact. Bulk bags may be folded up when not in use and take up far less storage space. This also makes them cost-effective since bulk bags are lighter and require less space than metal drums – they are more economical to buy and ship than metal drums.

Next, bulk bags have a lower environmental impact than steel drums, which could require more resources for recycling or disposal. Bulk bags are reusable and easy to recycle, decreasing waste and their impact on the planet.

Lastly, bulk bags are highly versatile. They are available in a variety of sizes and styles, making them more adaptable packaging choices for accommodating a range of material types and quantities.

Two white bulk bags sitting on an automated filling machine

Comparing steel drums with bulk bags

Despite their long history of use, steel drums have many disadvantages, such as lower capacity, increased transportation costs and difficult handling. A standard steel drum is 55 gallons, or just over 200 litres. A bulk bag can range from 500 to 2000 litres, providing greater storage capacity for heavier items than a normal steel drum.

Bulk bags offer more effective loading and unloading. Steel drums need to be loaded and unloaded using tools like a forklift or hoist due to their shape and weight. However, bulk bags can be manually loaded and unloaded, which improves efficiency.

With qualities like moisture resistance, breathability and UV protection, bulk bags provide better product protection, preserving the qualities of materials during storage and transit. On the other hand, steel drums run the risk of rusting, corroding, or denting with time, potentially contaminating the contents.

When to to choose bulk bags instead of steel drums

Although each packaging solution has advantages and clear use cases, there are some situations or requirements that may make bulk bags the better alternative. Take into account your product compatibility. Since steel is a metallic material, some products may react adversely with it. Bulk bags are inert and may be the safer choice in these circumstances.

Also consider weight; when a substance weighs more than a steel drum can hold, more than one steel drum may be needed for a single shipping or storage. This can lead to increased labour expenditures and transportation expenses.

Next, think about the storage conditions. Foldable or collapsible bulk bags are a preferable option than steel drums if storage space is a major concern in smaller warehouses or shipping containers. 

Custom Bulk Bags offers specialised and tailored packaging options, made to meet the needs of various sectors. Our bulk bags have many uses in different sectors, such as mining, construction and agriculture. We pride ourselves on quality control, efficient delivery times and a wide range of industry experience.

We offer free assessments and consultations with our clients to understand their needs and ensure that their bulk packaging products meet their requirements. For more information about our bulk bags or to get advice on the ideal design specifications, 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 2 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, LinkedIn and Instagram for our latest news and industry insights.