# Purchasing Earthbags Directly from China

I got a fortuitous email from the sales manager of a large factory in China that manufactures polypropylene bags wanting my business. During the course of our email exchanges I was able to find out what they can offer by way of bags, costs and transportation.

**The China Forest Packaging Group** in Qingdao, China can provide a wide range of polypropylene bags, both as individually sewn bags, and as long tubes on rolls. They ship via containers and can send these all over the world…including Haiti.

Standard 18″ X 30″ bags run about $0.11US each and the longer 18″ X 34″ bags are about $0.12 each. The same bags with UV stabilization are about a penny more. These prices are FOB Qingdao. The cost of shipping a 40′ container to the East coast of the US runs about $3,200US and this can hold about 330,000 bags….so this would add about a penny per bag.

The long tubing in rolls are 3500 meters (11,150′ or 2.2 miles) long. This is the equivalence of about 3,700 standard bags. The cost of each roll is about $482US, so that would mean that the equivalent price compared to individual bags is about $0.13US…so there is no saving in buying the long rolls.

They can supply gussetted bags by special order, and it would be necessary to give them exact specifications for this.

They need up to 30 days lead time to fill orders.

For more information you can contact Bill Chen, the Sales Manager. (He does communicate in English). chinaforestpack**AT**gmail.com Tel: +86 151 656 64026 Fax:+86 536 827 3455

Hi,I would like to build a earthbag house in the mountain of Haiti. You said you have contact there. Do you know if someone sells the bags there. and I also am interested in someone who have built a house there also. any help would be appreciated

Search previous stories on our blog about Haiti. There’s a list of projects. Every main project has been profiled on our blog. I’m not sure which projects are still active. You’ll have to do your own research. The corrupt government forced the only poly bag company not to sell bags and tubes for earthbag houses. After that earthbag in Haiti slowed way down. Some people ship them in by airplane from the US.

Hello Kelly,

My name is Tom Burgess, I am currently co-ordinating an Earthbag construction project in The Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies.

Our island was recently struck by tropical storm Erica,and has been devastated by floods and mud slides.

I am currently unemployed as a result of the storm and thus am able to co-ordinate this project with a view to getting the knowledge about safe building soloutions out there.(sadly, 30 people died and 500 have had to be re located. Infrastructure damage has set us back 20 years.

I have built a business ( Zam Zam Café Dominica),

and a home for my mother in the mountains using Earthbags (you helped us at the time with lots of great advice. Thank you!)

I am trying to find a source to ship down a few thousand bags to Dominica (according to the price). if you have any up to date advice or information, it would be greatly received.

Its nice to be back in the world of Earthbags again! thank you for the inspiration.

Tom Burgess.

Hi Tom,

I am sorry to hear about the deaths and damage from that storm. I certainly don’t know about earthbag resources in Dominica. The sources that I do know about at listed at http://earthbagbuilding.com/resources.htm#supplies Another place where you might inquire about good sources is https://www.facebook.com/groups/1594927570792578/ which is a public group called Earthbag Rebuild Nepal with very active dialogue and communication by all who are interested in this. This is an excellent way to network with others interested in this.

I wish you the best in this.

Thanks for the advice Kelly, greatly appreciated.

Have you tried to get what you need from an American company>

There are a number of American companies listed at http://earthbagbuilding.com/resources.htm#supplies . My guess is that many of them also get their bag material from China, but I have not queried them about this.

I heard back from the company. Mr Chen said they can ship as low as 50,000 pieces. Mind you that’s by train to me in Mongolia, but they might ship a similar quantity by container but I don’t know what the cost would be then for shipping. I was quoted the same prices as Kelly.

Now just gotta figure out how I can use 50,000 bags. ;-)

First you need to calculate the total square footage (or square meters) of the wall you intend to build. This can be done by simply multiplying the length times the height, and then to be precise, you can deduct the size of the windows and doors from this…but I usually don’t do this because it is better to over-estimate how many bags you might need, and also, you always need some partial bags to keep the brick pattern going.

If your wall is curved you’ll need to figure out the running length of the wall by either making a scale drawing and measuring the length that way, or in the case of a circle you can use the formula Length = 3.14 X the diameter for this.

Figuring out the surface area of a dome is obviously more complicated, partly because there are many shapes for domes. If the dome is close to hemispherical (not recommended for structural reasons) the formula would be 3.14 X the diameter squared. If the dome more closely resembles a cone, then the formula would be 3.14 X the radius X the radius plus the length from circle at the base to the top of the cone. Either of these formulas could be used to estimate approximately what the area of your dome might be, especially, if that total is then padded by not deducting openings, or simply rounding upward.

As far as bag coverage goes, it depends on the size of the bag how much square footage it will cover. I used what were labeled 50 lb. rice bags to build my house. These measured roughly 5? X 20? when laid in a wall and compacted. That is approximately .7 of a sq. ft. A nominal 100 lb. bag might actually be considerably larger than what I used, so you’ll need to run some tests to determine what kind of coverage to expect. The 50 lb. bags I used measured about 18? X 30? when laid flat.

Once you have figured out what the area of one bag might be after it is filled and tamped, then you can divide that figure into your total wall space to get the total number of bags needed. For instance, with the 50 lb. bags that I used, you would divide the area by .7 to get the total number of bags needed. In this case, for example, a 100 square foot wall would require roughly 143 bags.

I contacted them, seems like it should be simple to ship to Mongolia from China. Am considering tons of stuff for earthbag now… small homes, garages, etc…

Is there a simple way to estimate how many bags/layers will be needed for a vertical wall building of X meters by X meters? Is there a formula to estimate that?

Jonathan

Superior Sandbag Systems sells rolls of polypropylene tubing.

http://superiorsandbagsystems

949-338-5978

Hello, how about need for some of the others Island ?

Can Shipping lines concern French Caribeen Islands ? we have project there also

I suspect that this is possible, but you will need to confirm this with the manufacturer.

There are at least a half-dozen shipping lines shipping directly from China to Haiti. If the need develops to ship these bags to Haiti you will save A LOT of money by not importing first into the U.S. and then Exporting and Importing into Haiti.

Let me know if I can be of assistance in this area. I have developed a “Haiti Shipper’s Guide” and have a number of contacts in this area.

Anytime you are exporting from China the price of shipping a partial container or a small amount is exponentially larger. You can often import a full container for the same cost as 15% of the gross volume shipped by itself.

This is hands-down the most informative poly bag article I’ve ever read. Thanks for sharing this information! Do you know if they will ship smaller amounts of bags than a whole container?

Yes, they say “We can ship the bags as LCL (less than container load). If you have any inquires, please send them to me and I will quote our best price for you.”