Plastic barrels are a type of closed-top drum ideal for mixing, storing, dispensing, filtration, and transportation of liquid and solid materials. While steel barrels and fiber drums are also commonly used, plastic barrels are often preferred due to the durability of the material and because plastic is not susceptible to corrosion and can be used for long term storage without concerns of product contamination.
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Plastic Barrel Materials
Typically plastics like nylon and polyvinyl chloride are used to fabricate plastic drums or barrels. These plastics can endure a fair amount of internal pressure and some of the inevitable wear and tear that results from transportation processes. Especially for shipping purposes, industrial drums must meet certain standards, and plastic drums are no exception. Testing may include drop tests, leak proof tests, and weight capacity tests. Barrels are usually constructed according to standard sizes for ease of processing using generic drum handling equipment, including tumblers and stackers. However, as with most plastic products, there is room for customization, and drums can be designed and constructed according to specific requirements in terms of diameters, heights, and weight capacities. While plastic drums are used in industries such as food processing, chemical, beverage and consumer goods, steel drums are typically used for transporting radioactive, flammable or otherwise hazardous waste materials.
Applications for Plastic Barrels
Plastic barrels are used to transport all sorts of liquids and are often preferred to steel because they do not rust. Plastics such as nylon, polystyrene, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are specifically used to transport caustic and acidic materials. However, in transporting radioactive, flammable, or otherwise hazardous waste, steel drums are required instead. Plastic is more susceptible to damage from hazardous waste materials and therefore a more durable material is required to transport those. Plastic barrels are very sturdy and can be further reinforced with steel rims to ensure the structure does not collapse under pressure. Tamper proof or security seals can be placed around the opening of drums to ensure the integrity of the contained products. While not as light as paperboard, plastic is still lighter than steel and therefore also helps to save costs on the price of shipping, especially over long distances. Extra features which can be adjusted include a closure lock of sorts, and a choice of lid material. Non-industrial uses for plastic barrels include water barrels for collecting rainwater, floating components for water docks and as garden composters.
Sustainable Practices for Plastic Barrels
In an effort to be more environmentally conscious many industries and companies are finding new ways to save money while being more sustainable. Much of this sustainability is not necessarily a drop in production, but recycling and reusing previously made products. One industry that has produced an effort in this commitment is plastic barrel manufacturers. Some plastic barrel companies are producing new barrels from recycling or selling used food grade or other plastic barrels for sustainable practices and other uses.
Over the last 40 years, plastic barrels have dropped in average weight and can still maintain the same amount of product with less material. These improved designs also continue to drive down the cost of making plastic barrels while still increasing their structural integrity. Moreover, with oil prices on the rise, using less material to create plastic drums means less oil consumption in their creation.
Alternative Uses for Plastic Barrels
Furthermore, if companies cannot utilize their used plastic barrels then they may sell the plastic barrels for alternative uses. Previously used plastic barrels may have substitute uses. These uses can range from dock floats to gardening and even things as simple as trash cans. The alternative uses may not be their intended manufactured uses, but by selling those barrels for other beneficial practices the barrels are kept out of a landfill where they have absolutely no benefit.
By continually recycling and reusing plastic barrels are continual cost savings for both the company and consumer. While the cost economy is a great benefit, helping to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable is an equally important asset that does not go unnoticed. The plastic drum industry is committing itself to making the environment a cleaner more sustainable place one drum at a time.