Essential Considerations & Best Practices for Drum Disposal

Proper disposal and transportation of hazardous waste are critical to protect human health and the environment. When it comes to drum disposal, it is important to adhere to specific requirements and guidelines to minimize risks and potential harm. 

In this blog, we will explore the essential considerations and best practices for drum disposal (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency- EPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) regulations of hazardous waste, emphasizing the importance of safety and regulatory compliance.

Types of Drums

steel vs plastic waste drums

Steel or polyethylene drums are typically the most common drums used to dispose of hazardous materials or chemicals.

Where strength and durability are essential, steel drums work best. They are naturally fireproof, can support greater weight than poly drums, and can better endure any blunt impact (such as collisions). Despite not being the most eye-appealing drum, its durability lowers risk so that your insurance premium for drum transportation can be less unsightly. Steel drums have a higher long-term value than poly since they can be reused more easily. However, they have a weight issue, and too many avoirdupois makes shipping them more expensive.

Steel drums can cost twice as much as polyethylene or plastic drums. They can also help you save a lot of money on shipping charges when disposing of hazardous waste because they weigh around half as much. They are especially recommended for substances that can corrode metal (which many can) essentially leading to rust. (Note: Look for steel drums lined with polyethylene where durability and anticorrosive qualities similar to steel are required.)

U.S. DOT Nine Categorical Hazmat Labels

  • Compressed gas
  • Flammable & combustible liquid
  • Flammable & reactive solids
  • Oxidizers & organic peroxides
  • Poisonous materials & infectious substances
  • Radioactive materials
  • Corrosives
  • Miscellaneous

EPA & U.S. DOT Requirements for Hazardous Waste 

Transporting your hazardous substance offsite to its destination has many legal obligations required to ensure proper regulations are followed. Neither the EPA nor the U.S. DOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) establishes a format for identifying containers for chemical hazardous waste. Instead, each demands that particular information be clearly visible.

According to U.S. DOT regulations, the container must be prominently marked as a hazardous container and bear the following notice: Federal Law Prohibits Improper Disposal of Hazardous Waste. The transporter of hazardous waste is subject to several regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which include obtaining an EPA identification number, complying with EPA’s hazardous waste manifest system, and handling hazardous waste discharges. 

EPA keeps track of waste transporters by requiring an EPA ID number. Otherwise, a transporter is prohibited from transporting hazardous waste. These ID numbers are assigned to the transportation company as a whole. While the EPA’s hazardous waste manifest system is designed to track waste from the time it leaves the facility until it reaches the waste management facility. 

The name of your business must also be prominently displayed on the drum containers. Labeling needs to be robust, obvious, and written in the proper corresponding language. It needs to stand out against a background of a different hue and not be covered up by other labels, attachments, or marketing.

Hazmat Drum Disposal

waste management and transportation

Identifying and Classifying Hazardous Waste

Before drum disposal and transportation, it is essential to accurately identify and classify hazardous waste according to regulatory standards. The waste should be evaluated based on its characteristics (ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity) or listed hazardous waste determinations. Proper classification ensures appropriate handling, packaging, and disposal methods.

Drum Selection and Preparation

Choosing the right type of drum for hazardous waste disposal is crucial to maintain the integrity of the waste and ensure safe transportation. Use drums made of suitable materials that are compatible with the waste being stored. Ensure the drums are properly cleaned, inspected for damage, and meet relevant regulatory requirements.

Packaging and Labeling

Hazardous waste drums must be properly packaged and labeled. Use sturdy, leak-proof containers that meet the necessary regulatory specifications. Clearly label each drum with the appropriate hazard communication information, including the waste description, hazard symbols, handling instructions, and emergency contact information.

Documentation and Manifests

Maintaining accurate documentation is essential for proper waste disposal and transportation. Complete all required manifests (hazardous waste manifest system), shipping papers, and other necessary paperwork according to local, state, and federal regulations. Ensure that all information is accurate, including waste descriptions, quantities, and appropriate signatures.

Handling and Transportation

During drum transportation, it is crucial to follow proper handling procedures to prevent spills, leaks, and accidents. Use appropriate lifting and loading equipment, secure drums to prevent shifting, and follow safe driving practices. Ensure that all personnel involved in transportation are adequately trained on hazardous waste handling and emergency response procedures. 

Regulatory Compliance

Adhering to regulatory compliance will keep you out of legal trouble or potentially endangering others in the process. Familiarize yourself with the relevant local, state, and federal regulations, including those outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT). Stay updated on any changes to the regulations to ensure ongoing compliance.

Emergency Response Planning

Developing and implementing an emergency response plan is crucial to mitigate potential risks during drum disposal and transportation. This plan should include procedures for spill containment, personnel protection, and communication with appropriate emergency response agencies. Regularly review and update the plan as needed.

Qualified Service Providers

Engaging the services of qualified waste management companies is highly recommended for drum disposal and transportation. AllSource Environmental can help with your waste management and transportation needs. 

Regardless of size, ASE drum disposal services will effectively manage the disposal of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste. Our qualified hazmat professionals will ensure that your waste is appropriately collected and disposed of, whether it is just a few ounces, 55-gallon drums, cubic yard size containers, or in bulk.

Our non-hazardous transportation service is available for local and long-distance transportation needs in various means of transportation. If you need non-hazardous or hazardous transportation services, contact AllSource Environmental today.