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May / June 2001
Dr. Herbert Kielbassa, managing director of the world renowned LABORDATA International Materials Testing Institute, has an unrivalled knowledge of the global FIBC industry.

Correct FIBC labels? A disaster!

In all national and international standards it is laid down unanimously that every FIBC without exception must bear a label which shall contain precisely specified details. None of these details can be omitted. Even the sequence in which the details are listed is obligatory. Furthermore, in the new European Standard EN 1898 as well as in the forthcoming ISO standard, the arrangement of the label's layout is also defined with exactitude. The standardisation committees have dealt so thoroughly with the question of labelling for very good reasons. Labels which are incorrectly marked, which provide incomplete information or which are missing altogether, cause safety risks. Labels which are confusingly styled (sometimes chaotically so) impede their main purpose, which is to provide a quick overall view of the specified data and their completeness. It is therefore important that all labels should be drawn up in the same manner. This still leaves scope for individual presentation of company name and logo(s), if required.

It cannot be stressed too often (I have already written about this in a different context) and I shall continue to repeat: labels are not decorative flags, the content and design of which are determined by the manufacturers or suppliers. Labels are of technical and legal importance. The technical instructions refer to the maximum filling load, SWL, allowed in use and whether or not the FIBCs are permitted to be reused (multi-trip or single-trip FIBC - these words should be highlighted more prominently than the safety factors, which provide the same information. It should not necessarily be assumed that the workers handling the bags know the meaning of safety factors!). And of course the recommendations for safe handling,
which are normally presented in the form of pictograms, belong as well to the important technical data. All these details must be conspicuously displayed. A test certificate is valid for a maximum of three years. The details which are of special legal importance refer to proof that a valid test certificate issued by an approved laboratory is available. Therefore the number and the date of the certificate of approval and the name of the test house as well as the date of the FIBC's manufacture (month and year) must be indicated. Of course the certificate holder - which normally is the manufacturer, or in exceptional cases a supplier? must be shown on the label. All these regulations are not new. Ever since FIBC standards have been available, i.e. for more than 20 years, these requirements have been known and during this period have consistently remained unchanged.

Most FIBC labels at present in use are a very long way from complying with the regulations

They are almost identical in all national and international standards. So a vast amount of time has been available for manufacturers, suppliers, users and safety and health authorities to assimilate these regulations. Yet unfortunately most of the FIBC labels at present in use are a very long way from complying with the regulations. It is scarcely credible, but true: many of the parties involved have not seen a single one of the relevant standards until now, even those who have been manufacturing or dealing with FIBCs for many years. Often the information shown on the labels has been invented with a high degree of fantasy, through sheer ignorance of the regulations. More often than not, people are guided by the labels of their competitors. In this way mistakes propagate themselves.
 Despite being aware of the regulations, people often deliberately offend against the rules. In such cases, they systematically set out to deceive their customers and, by extension, the public at large.In such circumstances, their actions virtually amount to counterfeiting, i.e. criminal behaviour. It is necessary to speak about misuse of labels and certificates an another occasion forthrightly and in detail. The European Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container Association (EFIBCA), being the foremost international body serving the FIBC industry and open to members from all over the world, has realised that it is now necessary to take steps to preserve the positive image that the global FIBC industry continues to enjoy. For this reason, and also to safeguard the interests of its members, EFIBCA will take appropriate steps to ensure that correct labelling takes place. At the same time it will pursue and bring to public notice those who abuse the regulations. For this purpose, a committee was established at EFIBCA's 2001 summer meeting held in Athens at the beginning of June, from which it is hoped positive results will follow. In this respect my appeal in the March/April issue of this magazine has led to a quick and satisfactory result. Please do not hesitate to send incorrect labels and other information concerning flouting of regulations to: European Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container Association, Arbitration Committee, 140 Camphill Road, Broughty Ferry, Dundee DD5 2NF, Scotland, UK (Fax: +44 1382 480130), or to LABORDATA International Materials Testing Institute. Thus, through your co-operation we shall achieve greater order and safety within the FIBC market. Of course information will be kept confidential. In case of questions regarding correct labels, ask LABORDATA. You will be given all the help you want. (see example (96kB))

Comments are welcome and these may be sent by letter to Dr Kielbassa, c/o INDUSTRIAL BULK WORLD, 25 West Cottages, Off West End Lane, London NW6 1RJ, UK. Alternatively, he can be contacted direct (tel: +49 531 33 9011, fax: +49 531 33 9013; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).