The Many Uses for Plastic Bulk Containers

many uses of plastic bulk containers

When it comes to shipping and storing valuable cargo, plastic bulk containers help you keep your goods safe and sound. They’re made with strong, durable materials that protect your goods as they travel to their destination. These containers are also completely reusable and extremely lightweight, helping you save as much money on shipping as possible.

If you’re just learning about bulk plastic containers, we’ll walk you through their many features and benefits–including how they can help your business save money, and how these containers are used across a myriad of industries–so you can make the most of your shipping materials. Learn why bulk plastic containers are the preferred choice across so many businesses and industries.


Humans have benefited from plastics since 1600 BC when Mesoamericans first processed natural rubber into balls, figurines and bands. Centuries later, humans are still benefiting from plastic. It’s generally much cheaper than other shipping materials like wood, paper, steel and aluminum, making it easier to transport. While there are many uses for plastic around the world, packaging is the largest end-use market segment accounting for just over 40 percent of all plastic usage. Collapsible plastic bulk containers are a versatile storage solution. The many benefits of using plastic bulk containers for shipping and storage include:

Safe, reliable storage

You don’t have to worry about your goods getting damaged during their trip when you choose plastic. These containers come with reinforced walls that will protect your goods in just about any situation. Plastic containers won’t break down or degrade like other containers, including those made with wood or metal.

durable plastic bulk containers in a warehouse

Most plastic containers are completely waterproof, so they won’t rust or fall apart if you leave them out in the rain. Unlike wooden crates and pallets, they leave behind virtually zero dust and debris, so your goods will remain clean and intact. You can keep your products in storage for months or years on end without damaging your inventory in any way.

Simplify material handling

Plastic bulk containers put the “bulk” in your operations. Your team can move large quantities of goods in less time when your goods are stored and shipped in fewer containers. This simplifies your material handling operations, so your team can work smarter, not harder. Use forklifts and plastic pallets to move your goods efficiently.

This also improves the ergonomics and overall safety of your workplace. Your team can get the job done without having to bend down repeatedly. Stacking cardboard boxes on a dolly can lead to mishaps and falling towers, damaging your goods in the process. Choose plastic bulk containers for more peace of mind.

Using plastic containers also simplifies and speeds up the international shipping process. According to the ISPM 15 Rules, all wood containers and pallets must be treated and approved before crossing into another country to prevent the spread of wood-borne illnesses and pests. Your containers will move through customs without being stopped for inspection.

plastic bulk containers benefits graphic

Reusable (eco-friendly) and repairable

If you’re looking to reduce your shipping and storage costs, it’s best to invest in reusable containers. You can quickly refill plastic bulk containers once they’ve served their purpose. Carriers can use these containers for both shipping and receiving as they pick up and drop off numerous orders over the course of a single route. Remember to inspect your containers before reinserting them into the supply chain. Quickly wash the interior with disinfectant and water and your containers will be ready for another order.

Reusing plastic containers for shipping and storage reduces your impact on the environment. You won’t have to order and generate new shipping materials every time you need to send out a package, reducing demand for precious natural resources like wood and the shipping industry’s overall energy consumption. Fewer containers will need to be discarded or recycled. Your company can save money and protect the environment at the same time.

Variety of options and sizes

Plastic bulk containers come in all shapes and sizes, making them the perfect choice for nearly any business or industry. You can choose from smaller plastic totes to large plastic bins that can store hundreds of products at once. Some containers come with wheels attached, making them easier to transport.

If you need to ship produce or other food products, use vented plastic containers to help your products breathe during transportation.  These containers also come with all kinds of lids and tops. Choose a lid that securely attaches to the container for less movement during shipment, or open slats if you want to keep your products easily accessible. Perfect for maritime shipping, waterside plastic containers can easily be drained if they fill up with water.

multi colored set of plastic baskets

Having a wide variety of sizes and styles to choose from helps you optimize your business operations. You can minimize your shipping costs by finding a container that’s just the right size for your products. In the warehouse, keeping your containers open helps your team quickly find what they need, thus accelerating the order fulfillment process. You can easily customize your plastic containers, helping you meet the specific needs of your team and customers.

Collapsible for efficient use of space

You can never have enough warehouse space. With warehouse rents on the rise across the country, your business needs to make the most of every square inch of space. Traditional storage containers may end up doing your business more harm than good if you can’t break them down when they’re empty. Clear up space in your warehouse with stackable and collapsible plastic bulk containers when inventory is low.

Keep empty storage containers out of the way, so your team can move throughout the space freely. This also helps you keep track of your inventory, so you can see exactly how many full containers are on the shelf. As new orders and products come in, you can quickly deploy these containers and put them back on the shelf.

Reduced shipping costs

Overall, plastic bulk containers help you save money on your shipping and storage operations. They’re among the lightest containers on the market. Shipping costs are typically calculated by weight and size. Plastic bulk containers help you consolidate your shipments while keeping them as light as possible. Your team won’t have to work as hard or as long when loading or unloading shipments, reducing your labor costs and potential injuries on the job.

reduced shipping costs quote


These are just some of the ways plastic containers are used in industries around the world.

Food and beverage

Restaurants, food manufacturers, suppliers and distributors will often use food-safe plastic totes, IBC totes and plastic bulk containers to ship and store food and beverages. IBC totes make it easy to transport and dispense large quantities of liquids. Vented plastic totes and trays are perfect for moving baked goods, produce and hot foods that need to cool before serving.

Automotive manufacturing

Automotive manufacturers will use plastic containers to move and collect items on the factory floor. Wheeled containers make it easy to move large, heavy supplies and pieces of equipment, increasing efficiency throughout the facility.

Material handling

Warehouses and distribution centers will often use plastic containers to ship and store a variety of goods. Workers can quickly wheel or move large quantities of goods to the loading dock for order processing and fulfillment. Managers can also use plastic totes and crates to quickly organize their inventory while keeping items visible for fast retrieval.

Medical equipment

Medical suppliers and equipment manufacturers use plastic containers to ship and store their goods and other medical supplies. Plastic containers keep these sensitive items secure during transportation, while reducing shipping costs as much as possible. They also help these companies maintain a clean workspace. Plastic containers are easy to clean, while reducing the amount of dirt and debris. They won’t rust in the rain, ensuring all supplies are safe for medical use.

blue plastic container with lid closed


Just like medical supplies, pharmaceutical manufacturers depend on plastic containers for their durability and cleanliness. Food-grade plastic containers ensure medications arrive at their destination intact. Tamper-proof containers prevent mishandling, so the end user can rest assured that all items are safe to consume.

Inside the lab, pharmaceutical companies will also use plastic containers to organize their supplies throughout the testing and manufacturing process. This results in a safe, clean workspace, which is crucial for those working inside the pharmaceutical industry.


Farms and food suppliers will use plastic totes and bulk containers to safely and efficiently move large quantities of food, including fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and meat. Mills and farms will also use these containers to move supplies throughout their respective facilities.

Retail manufacturing

Retail manufacturers understand the value of plastic bulk containers as well. These companies will often use plastic containers to move fabric and other materials from one side of the factory to another. They also use containers for organizing and storing supplies, including those used for sewing, hemming, stitching and cutting the fabric.

Postal services

Even the U.S. Postal Service will use plastic bulk containers. These containers are perfect for sorting and transporting envelopes and packages of all sizes. Workers can quickly sort items based on their destination or move items to the truck or loading dock without exerting a lot of energy.

the many uses for plastic bulk containers


With so many factors to consider when choosing plastic storage containers, you’ll need to do your research before you start investing in a new fleet of containers. Finding the right type and size of container all depends on the unique needs of your business. Keep these considerations in mind when shopping for plastic containers.


If you’re shipping or storing sensitive items like food, medication or rare goods, it’s best to use plastic containers that come with a secure lid, preferably one that you can lock. You can also buy insulated and temperature-sensitive plastic containers for more control over how your products are stored on their trip.


When organizing and storing your inventory, you’ll have to decide whether you want to keep your products accessible or visible. You can choose open containers and crates that simplify the item retrieval process. Your workers will be able to see the product without opening the container, so they won’t have to check the SKU number on the shelf. Choose between a two- or four-way entry container for more storage flexibility.

organizing storing inventory quote

If you want to maintain your privacy, go with a sealed plastic container with a secure lid.

Food Safe

If you’re shipping food, beverages or medicine, make sure the containers are FDA-approved. They should be made with food-safe materials to prevent the spread of contamination. Use vented containers to keep the air flowing or tightly sealed containers for more privacy and security.

Material Handling

Consider the ergonomics of your operations before investing in plastic bulk containers. Talk to your employees about how you can improve the layout of your facility, so your team can use their time more efficiently. Think about the everyday duties and responsibilities of your workers and how your containers can affect, and ultimately improve, your overall operations.


If you want to make the most of your storage space and your inventory tends to fluctuate on a dime, collapsible storage containers will be the best choice for your business. Your team can condense and deploy these containers as products move in and out of your facility.

collapsible black plastic container

Regardless of the nature of your business, plastic bulk containers are here to help you improve your operations. From sorting mail and incoming packages to organizing supplies and low-cost shipping, you can put plastic containers to work for your business in more ways than one. Keep this information on hand as you begin searching for the right plastic container and partner with a reliable shipping container reseller to make sure you always order containers at the right price.