Testing Procedures for UN-Certified Bulk Bags

December 8, 2023

What Are UN-Certified Bulk Bags? 

A UN-rated FIBC is a flexible intermediate bulk container or bulk bag designed and approved by the United Nations to transport and store hazardous materials. These materials generally include flammable, combustible, toxic, and environmentally harmful chemicals. 

[ROPS] UN Certified FIBC Testing Procedures-01

To qualify for UN certification, an FIBC must undergo a series of rigorous performance tests and adhere to strict labeling and marking requirements. The purpose of these regulations is to prevent or minimize the risk of dangerous goods causing serious harm to the public and the environment.

Specific regulations related to UN-rated bulk bags can be found in the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.


How Do UN Bulk Bags Differ From Regular Bulk Bags? 

All bulk bags must undergo performance testing. However, UN-approved bulk bags must meet higher performance standards than standard bulk bags. These tests are intended to validate the bag’s safety for storing and transporting dangerous goods. 

UN-rated bulk bags typically have heavier body, top, and base panel fabric than standard bulk bags. To pass the difficult topple test and righting test, heavy top panel fabric is critical. 

The industry standard Safety Factor (SF) for a regular FIBC is 5:1. UN-certified bulk bags must carry a 6:1 SF. To satisfy the 6:1 safety factor test, a bag must survive 70 press-and-release top lift cycles at four times the bag’s Safe Working Load (SWL) followed by a final cycle at six times the SWL. 

UN-Rated FIBC Testing Procedures

[ROPS] UN Certified FIBC Testing Procedures-02

UN Test Preparation

For consistency purposes, proper bag testing controls are as follows:

  • The bag must be filled to at least 95% capacity. 
  • Contents must be evenly distributed in the bag.
  • Tests must be undertaken using the material to be transported or similar non-hazardous material with the same physical characteristics. 

UN FIBC Performance Tests

UN bulk bags undergo a series of rigorous performance tests before they can be certified and approved. If a bag fails any one of these tests, it will not be certified and cannot bear UN markings.

UN bags must be certified each year they are produced. The cost to certify a UN package typically ranges from $500 to $1,000. 

Top Lift

The FIBC is filled with material to SWL capacity and suspended by its lift loops. A hydraulic cylinder is positioned over the material. The cylinder forces the material downward into the bulk bag. The bulk bag must maintain a total load of six times the SWL for five minutes.

Stacking Test

The FIBC is filled to SWL capacity on a flat surface. Pressure is applied to the top of the bag to simulate two bags stacked on top of the bag being tested. The bulk bag must survive for 24 hours to pass.

Drop Test

The FIBC is evenly filled with material to SWL capacity. The bulk bag is dropped from specified heights based on the testing requirements of the packing group. The bulk bag cannot burst or allow the product to escape at each bag height.

Topple Test

The FIBC is placed on a platform filled at maximum SWL capacity. The platform is raised and forced to topple over from a specific height. The height varies based on the packing group. The bulk bag cannot burst or leak.

Righting Test

The FIBC is filled to maximum SWL capacity and knocked onto its side. The bulk bag is then righted into the proper position by only two lift loops. The bag and loops should not show any sign of damage once righted.

Tear Test

The FIBC is filled to maximum SWL capacity and cut by a knife. The cut must be at least 100 mm long at a 45-degree angle. The tear cannot expand in size more than 25% when a load equal to two times the SWL is applied for five minutes.

Vibration Test

The FIBC is placed on a platform. Vibration is set to a frequency that causes the bag to rise from the platform for 60 minutes. The bag cannot rupture or leak during that time.

Download Our UN Packaging Brochure


What Type of UN Bulk Bag Do I Need? 

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Not all UN FIBC bags are created equal. Like standard bulk bags, UN-rated bulk bags come in various sizes and styles. Customer or product-specific requirements dictate what type of UN bulk bag is needed. Basic bag parameters can be identified by the bag’s UN marking. 

Code designating the type of FIBC:

  • 13H1 = FIBC, Uncoated, No Liner
  • 13H2 = FIBC, Coated, No Liner
  • 13H3 = FIBC, Uncoated, With Liner
  • 13H4 = FIBC, Coated, With Liner

A capital letter designating the packing group(s) for which the design type has been approved:

  • X = Packing Groups I, II, and III (IBCs for solids only)
  • Y = Packing Groups II and III
  • Z = Packing Group III only

Before you package anything dangerous or potentially dangerous, consult your bulk bag supplier. Make sure your supplier has been properly trained and certified to provide UN-certified packaging. The potential financial and operational liability associated with using improper packaging can be extremely high. 

Do You Need UN-Certified Packaging Now? 

Southern Packaging is one of the leading FIBC UN bulk bags manufacturers and distributes UN-certified bulk bags, multi-wall paper bags, and poly packaging to a broad range of customers.

For more information regarding on-demand or custom UN-rated packaging, contact us today.  

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