If your company is involved in transporting goods of any description, you will, of course, need to be aware of the correct type of industrial packaging to use, how the goods are to be best transported and the different costs involved.

One of the most important details you need to find out if you are transporting large amounts of goods is the difference between bulk bag packaging and non-bulk bag packaging.

This is because the shipping requirements differ, depending on the type of industrial packaging being used.

Anyone with responsibility for transporting or arranging the transportation of materials from one place to another must familiarise themselves with the necessary rules and regulations pertaining to the handling of the goods involved, as well as the method by which they are being transported. This is in order to ensure the goods are transported in a safe, efficient and lawful nature.

The best place to go for accurate information about the variations between bulk and non-bulk packaging is the Department for Transport (DfT), the government department responsible for maintaining and developing the country’s transportation systems and infrastructure. Check out the DfT website for the latest information on how to transport goods safely across the country and beyond.

It is the DfT which issues rules and guidance about transporting all manner of goods on our roads and other transport networks, including regulations regarding the movement of hazardous materials.

According to the DfT, whether something being transported is classed as bulk or non-bulk is mainly determined by its capacity – in other words, how much liquid, solid or gas it can hold.

In short, the bulk packaging is something such as a vehicle or container, but not including a barge or other vessel, into which hazardous materials can be loaded with no other form of containment. Examples of bulk packaging, therefore, include cargo tanks, portable tanks, tank cars and intermediate bulk containers.

Bulk packaging must also have a maximum capacity which is greater than 450 litres (or 119 gallons) for liquids, as well as more than 882 pounds for solids, or possess a water capacity which is more than 1,000 pounds of gases.

This means a vessel or barge will not be considered as bulk packaging, but a transport vehicle, tanker or a large packaging structure can be classed as bulk packaging. So the likes of petrol, gases and large amounts of liquid or foodstuffs will be necessarily transported in bulk packaging.

So what is non-bulk packaging? Well, essentially anything which does not meet the criteria of bulk packaging will be considered as non-bulk for the purpose of the regulations and classification.

This will be something which has a maximum capacity of 450 litres (119 gallons) or less for liquids, a mass of 400kg (882 pounds) or less for solids, or a water capacity of 454kg (1,000 pounds) or less for gases.

Common examples of non-bulk packaging include boxes, jerry cans and drums. Most smaller types of goods will be transported in non-bulk packaging.

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