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What do sorted recyclables, onions and alligators have in common? They’ve all been temporarily stored and transported in one of the many types of bags offered by Quincy Bag Company, a family-owned and operated business based in Dubuque, Iowa.
(More on the alligators later.)

D. Quincy Farber established Quincy Bag Co. (QBC) in 1998, building on experience he’d gained working for his family’s business in the packaging industry. Quincy’s spin on his own packaging business: Refurbished bulk bags.

“I saw an opportunity to do something a little different,” Quincy said. “My family was not refurbishing bulk bags, and I recognized the market potential.”

QBC sets the standard

Was Quincy the first to come up with the idea of repurposing bulk bags? Maybe. He was definitely one of the first … and over the years Quincy Bag has set the standard for repurposing used bulk bags, creating and refining a process focused on quality control and safety.

Flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs), aka “bulk bags,” are refurbished at the QBC facility in Dubuque. The process starts with finding and collecting reusable bags. Most come from the food industry, since food grade bags can’t be re-used for their original purpose. After sorting for sizes, QBC’s quality control department inspects the FIBCs for damage. Bags that are damaged beyond repair are recycled; reparable bags are cleaned (emptied of any prior contents) and repaired.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of these bags are given a new life at QBC – and kept out of the waste stream. Quincy FIBCs are a familiar sight at recycling facilities where they’re used to store and transport separated materials. Outside of the solid waste industry, bulk bags from QBC are used in the agriculture, mineral and aggregate industries across the US and Canada.

Refurbished FIBCs are just one of many types of bags offered at Quincy Bag. Other products include new bulk bags, woven polypropylene bags, multiwall paper bags, sandbags and burlap bags. A wide range of styles and sizes are warehoused in Dubuque and in several satellite warehouses across the U.S., including an assortment of “misfit” bags – oddball sizes, misprints and other anomalies Quincy collects, stores and keeps out of the landfill until a good home can be found.

QBC employs 15 at its Iowa facilities (Dubuque and Cedar Rapids). Employees and the local community are important to Quincy Bag. Company president Kate Farber says: “Our focus is on people. We take care of our employees and give back to the local and larger community as much as we can.” Both Kate and Quincy say they like to invest in causes, and as a small company they’re able to respond quickly when a need arises.

And speaking of quick responses, Quincy Bag is renowned nationwide for its rapid response to natural disasters, especially hurricanes and flooding. Even before storms arrive, QBC reaches out to First Responders to help get sandbags shipped and in place. These efforts were highlighted in a Dubuque Telegraph-Herald article earlier this year.

Quincy Bag is a relatively new Iowa Recycling Association member, joining in 2017 for the networking opportunities. In addition to the connections made through the IRA, Kate notes it’s good to be affiliated with organizations promoting her company’s values. “Waste reduction and sustainability has been an important part of our business model since the company was started.”

You can learn more about Quincy Bag Company at their website.

About those alligators:
Orders for bags from QBC come from a lot of unusual places. Among the most quirky: Repeat orders from a state Fish & Wildlife Dep’t. for bags to help thin alligator populations. It turns out there’s a QBC burlap bag that’s just perfect for transporting the alligators to their new homes.

Whatever you want to put in there, QBC has a bag for you!

Pictured above, top to bottom:

Bulk bags, purchased new from Quincy Bags, store seed corn in a customers’ warehouse. When the customer is through with the bags, they’ll be returned to Quincy, for refurbishing.

Used FIBCs, ready to be refurbished at QBC. Do you have a stack of bags that looks like this? Contact Kate Farber.

Refurbished bags ready to be shipped to QBC customers.