Conventional industrial bulk packaging products, such as steel and plastic drums, are touted as classic workhorses for storage and transport of a broad range of industrial products across a diverse set of industries. The overall growth in economic activity and industrial output has strongly influenced the growth in the global industrial bulk packaging market. Moreover, prominent Mega Trends, coupled with evolving regulatory and customer requirements, continue to impact the selection, use, reuse, and disposal of such products. A study on the market for key industrial packaging products, thus, assumes significance.

This study is an attempt to quantify the sales of a select set of industrial bulk packaging products and to gauge the level of impact that the market developments, tightening regulatory scenario, and shifting consumer preferences are expected to have on the demand for such products over the next seven years. The study quantifies the sales volume and the corresponding revenue for individual product types across applications within each of the considered regional segments. Moreover, the study also focuses on quantifying the consumption of materials used in production of the considered set of products and indicates the corresponding revenue from 2016 to 2026.

The scope of the study includes the industrial bulk packaging market–based product types such as 55-gallon steel drums, 55-gallon plastic drums, intermediate bulk containers (IBCs), and flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs). While first three of the aforementioned products compose the rigid packaging segment, the latter is a form of flexible packaging. Chemicals, pharmaceuticals, petroleum & lubricants, paints & coatings, food & beverages, and others are the key application-based segments considered for rigid type of packaging products, whereas FIBCs are used for products in solid, granular, or powder forms in chemicals & minerals, construction, food, agroproducts, and pharmaceuticals. Furthermore, polypropylene, high–molecular weight, high-density polyethylene (HM-HDPE), and steel are the key materials used in production of the considered set of offerings. The study quantifies the consumption of each of these material types for individual product types on the basis of a robust methodology comprising analysis of the regional supply of such products as well as uptake of materials per product.

A favorable, long-term, macroeconomic, and industrial production outlook should augur well for growth in the demand for industrial chemicals, bulk food & beverages, agrochemicals, building and construction products, and pharmaceuticals. However, the ever-rising sustainability concerns; stringent regulations; and tightening environmental, health, and safety standards have created an exigent need for greener, safer, and sustainable alternatives. While cost and proximity to customers continue to be among the primary factors influencing the purchase decision, a significant rise in preference for reusable packaging products means that industry incumbents must focus on developing efficacious alternatives. In terms of product types, with their strong advantages over other conventional industrial packaging products, especially for chemicals and bulk liquids transport, coupled with growing customer preference, the IBCs have been assuming a focal point in the rigid industrial packaging products and services segment. In terms of applications, the chemicals and petrochemicals industry accounts for over 50% to 75% (depending on the type of product) of the total demand for industrial packaging products.

Life cycle analysis studies on industrial packaging products, such as drums and IBCs, suggest that reconditioning such products or using post-consumer recyclates (PCR) resin–based plastic products substantially reduces the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over the entire product life cycle. For instance, reconditioning a 55-gallon open-head steel drum can achieve reduced emissions by nearly 61% compared to manufacturing the same type of new steel drum. However, while reconditioning appears to be the natural choice, the lack of a well-developed global network of reconditioning facilities is hindering the ability to reduce emissions and offset the carbon footprint. The market for industrial bulk packaging products continues to be characterized by a handful of large global participants and several small to medium-sized participants, highly standardized designs, and relatively lower differentiation, thus ensuing strong competition and narrow margins. Accordingly, to sustain and/or strengthen their market share, manufacturers must offer value-added products with more functionality coupled with unmatched customer service. Accordingly, the growing demand from sensitive applications such as food & beverages and pharmaceuticals is expected to offer significant growth avenues over the forecast period. Moreover, the leading global market participants are strengthening their footprint in both manufacturing and reconditioning businesses by expansions as well as mergers and acquisitions.