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Re-useable Drums

     In today’s world of re-cycling, re-use, and conservation, getting the most from a container is environmentally sound. In most cases, re-using the 55 gallon steel drum is an obvious thought. The 55 gallon drum is one of the most shipped and common containers for many industrial solutions and powdered solids. So much so, that complete infrastructures, tools, shipping pallets and even truck dimensions have been built around its configuration. Many companies take part in a re-cycling operation that checks returned drums for faults and imperfections. If they pass inspection, the drum can be re-used for waste or another product without contaminating it in the process.

     Past the point of creating 55 gallon garbage cans and exterior rain barrels around your plant, there is an endpoint where you can find uses for empty drums. While these are all important functions necessary to operate facilities, you can only use so many trashcans. The ability of a plant operation to become involved in an intra-plant re-cycling of drums can decrease your overall waste and increase your over-all profit. If your product type allows you to empty your drum and remove all residual product to the human eye, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act {RCRA}, has mandated that drums can be made “RCRA clean” for non-foods items by power washing three consecutive times before re-use. In addition, they must be “intact” and not corroded on or through any surface area of the drum. Only you can determine “intactness”. If determined, multiple uses will be worth more to lower your operation costs but choices should be prudent. Cash savings can be made, but environmental consciousness in a positive manner may mean many more customers.

     One key towards obtaining a safe, conscious, results oriented re-use drum operation, is that of personnel. For the safest results, at least one person should shoulder the responsibility for the inspection of used drums. This is a serious obligation if the used drums will contain hazards. The second is proper documentation and UN {United Nations} markings. UN numbers validate that the container in question was properly constructed in the original manner. This allows you, the re-user to be confident you are beginning with an initial intact container. The third key is compatibility. Your inspection personnel must insure that the drum being “re-used” is compatible with and will NOT react with any product you place in it. Only these UN marked drums shall be embossed on the side of the drum and are useable for hazardous wastes. These makings will be under the upper lip near the top of the drum.

     Additionally, these markings let your inspector know that this container has met POP or “Performance Oriented Packaging” standards set down by 49 CFR 178. The markings will look similar to the following;

UN 1A1/X1.7/310


UN 1A2/X460/S

UN = United Nations

1= Drum

A= steel construction

1 or 2= 1 for a closed head drum, 2 for an open head drum

After the next / mark the letters X, Y, or Z will indicate the DOT {Department of Transportation} packing group that was originally shipped in that drum.

X= Will hold packing groups I, II, and III.

Y= Will hold packing groups II, and III.

Z= Will hold packing group III.

Packing groups must be identified and correspond to the appropriate letter when re-using the drum to carry hazardous waste. After the group letter will be a number. If the number is low and has a decimal in it, it refers to the specific gravity of the original product. If the number is high without a decimal, it refers to the maximum weight of the drum and its original contents in kilograms and should not be exceeded. The final number or letter regards the containers capabilities. If it is a number, this is the hydrostatic pressure for liquids {in kilograms} that the drum can withstand. If it is a letter, it determines the state of matter contained, such as {S} for solids.

     Many other features need to be taken into account if your re-useable drums contain hazardous waste. Drum intactness, original labels removed, proper closure and torque on the drum lid bolts, are but a few to be considered.

Click here for drawings.


                                                                                                      Haz Mat Mike   


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