How do you safely dispose of plastic barrels?

Blue Plastic Drum Family

Plastic barrels are one of the most popular choices for storage and transport of industrial goods. They’re cost-effective, highly durable and incredibly versatile.

Plastic barrels have a long life span, but at some point your trusty barrel will need to be disposed of. You can’t just throw unwanted plastic barrels in the rubbish, because the industrial nature of their prior contents as well as the barrels themselves need proper care and attention.

In this article, we take a look at how to safely dispose of plastic barrels.


We’re big fans of sustainability, so we’re starting our guide by making it clear that plastic barrels can be re-used. In fact, this is one of the qualities that makes them so popular in an industrial capacity.

Plastic barrels aren’t single-use and they’re designed to be re-used time and time again. That means that once it’s been used for storing your goods, you can fill the barrel up again and make sure it has a long life before you need to think about disposing of it.


It’s important to remember that you’ll need to clean out your barrels after each use. If you’re changing the materials that are stored inside, you’ll need to decontaminate too. This is particularly important if you’re storing food or chemicals. Drum liners can help you to avoid cross-contamination when using plastic barrels.

Plastic barrels can’t simply be thrown in the rubbish pile, because their industrial use means that they will cause contamination. For that reason, disposing of plastic barrels incorrectly can be hazardous to health. If chemicals have been stored inside, then these need to be removed and the barrel needs to be completely decontaminated before it can be reused.

The barrels can slowly degrade over time too. If they’re simply thrown away, they’re not only dangerous to health but dangerous to the environment as well. Plastic can leach into waterways and contaminants that haven’t been disposed of correctly can cause environmental damage. If water supplies are subsequently contaminated, this becomes a hazard to human health, too.


The best and safest way to dispose of plastic barrels is to recycle them. Plastic takes a long time to degrade naturally, so in the interest of sustainability plastic barrels should always be recycled, where possible.

Many industrial companies specialise in recycling plastic barrels and making them fit for use again in an industrial capacity. Getting professionals to decontaminate and then recycle them is the safest option if you’re not sure how to do it yourself.

Recycled plastic barrels can be used again and again, extending their shelf life by many years and helping the environment in the process.


If plastic barrels have reached the end of their shelf life and can no longer be reused or recycled for industrial purposes, then they can be repurposed and used in a different capacity.

The barrel first needs to be decontaminated, but once this is done, they can fulfil many uses. They can be used for growing plants or even trees, or they can simply become containers for non-industrial products.

If your plastic can’t be decontaminated safely, it shouldn’t be repurposed. It will need to be disposed of in a safe manner. The best way to do this is to have a specialist waste removal expert dispose of the barrel, as throwing it into the rubbish creates a more dangerous hazard to health and to the environment.

Ultimately, we always recommend reusing, recycling, or repurposing your plastic barrels, rather than attempting to dispose of them. This is more sustainable and less dangerous, as long as the barrel has been safely decontaminated.


At ITP Packaging, we stock a huge range of plastic barrels and many other items designed for industrial storage and transport. We can offer you support when it’s time to dispose of your plastic barrels, so don’t hesitate to ask our experts for health and safety advice if you need it.

Our team are on hand to help you with your industrial packaging needs, and to answer any questions you might have about disposing of plastic barrels. Contact ITP Packaging today to find out more.

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