How to Fill Your Plastic Barrels


Plastic barrels are one of the world’s most popular industrial storage options, and for good reason. The classic blue plastic barrel is a common sight in warehouses and storehouses, because they’re durable, reusable and cost-effective.

But in order for them to be as long lasting as possible, it’s important to learn how to fill your plastic barrels in the safest way possible. In this article, the expert team at ITP Packaging explains which goods can safely be stored inside plastic barrels, how plastic barrels can be safely handled, and which government legislation you need to be aware of when storing or transporting industrial materials.

What Contents Can Plastic Barrels Hold?

Plastic barrels are an incredibly versatile industrial storage solution, and they can be used to safely store an impressive range of goods, products and materials. This includes everything from paint and oil, through to water and beer.

UN rated plastic barrels can even store potentially dangerous solvents, chemicals and hazardous waste, while food-grade barrels can safely hold consumable food and beverages (although you should never use the same barrel for different jobs, in this respect).

Given the wide variety of capacities available – ranging from small 30-litre drums, through to much larger 220-litre drums – plastic barrels can be used to store personal quantities of goods, or industrial quantities of goods.

Common examples of things stored inside plastic barrels include:

  • Pharmaceuticals and medical supplies
  • Oils and lubricants
  • Water and other liquids
  • Foodstuff
  • Grains
  • Sand
  • Construction materials
  • Powders
  • Chemicals

It’s important to note that some contents are more suited to plastic barrel storage than others. For example, while fuel such as petrol and diesel can be stored inside a plastic drum, over time it can cause the plastic to break down and become unstable. Fuel is generally better stored in steel drums. If you’re in any doubt as to what contents can safely be stored inside a plastic barrel, feel free to speak to an expert at ITP Packaging for clarification.

How Long Can You Store Water in a Plastic Barrel?

Plastic barrels are well suited for holding large quantities of water, but if you’re hoping to store lots of drinking water, it’s important to know how long the water will stay fresh.

Freshwater will never go off as long as it’s not contaminated and is clean in the first instance. However, when placed into a plastic barrel, the plastic will, over time, slowly degrade and leach into the water.

This is a very slow process, and one that can take years before the contamination becomes unsafe, but regulations and guidelines stay on the safer side and recommend that drinking water be rotated every six months. You should also remember to only ever use food-grade barrels to store drinking water and ensure that the barrel has been cleaned and disinfected before use. 

How Long Can You Store Chemicals in a Plastic Barrel?

Plastic barrels are commonly used to store different chemicals and solvents, but it’s important to check that the chemicals in question won’t react with the plastic.

If you are storing chemicals, then make sure you’re using UN rated barrels, as they’re specifically designed for industrial use of this kind. There are no set rules on how long you can store chemicals in a plastic barrel, as it depends on the chemicals in question.

Check with your chemical suppliers for detailed information, as different types of chemicals will have different lifespans and will affect plastic in different ways.

What Is the Best Method for Filling, Securing, and Transporting Plastic Barrels?

To safely fill, secure and transport plastic barrels, you first need to carry out a risk assessment. You need to assess any relevant dangers to your employees, provide adequate PPE (personal protective equipment) and have procedures in place should accidents occur. This is particularly important if you’re filling and transporting plastic barrels with flammable or hazardous goods.

When plastic barrels are being filled and moved around, it’s important to use industrial equipment such as a drum trolley or forklift. Plastic barrels should be stored undercover where possible, and when in transit they should be secured safely to the bed of the truck or vehicle that’s transporting them.

What Is the Relevant Legislation Governing This?

Various government legislation exists in order to ensure that industrial goods are stored and transported in a safe and secure manner. It’s imperative that you follow any relevant guidelines when filling plastic barrels, as this is not only a legal requirement but will help to protect you and your employees from harm.

The legislation you need to follow will depend on the types of goods you’re planning to store and transport. Different materials have different rules and regulations, with hazardous or flammable materials obviously requiring more legislation than water.

A good place to start is the Health and Safety Executive, which lays down guidelines and regulations concerning the safe storage of industrial goods. If you’re planning to store flammable or hazardous goods in plastic barrels, for example, then you can find the correct procedures to follow on the HSE website.

If you are planning to transport potentially dangerous goods, you can follow the government’s transportation legislation on the Gov.UK website, while the Food Standards Agency produces regulations on storing foodstuff.

Contact ITP Packaging to Find Out More About How to Fill Your Plastic Barrels

Plastic barrels are an incredibly versatile industrial storage option, and they can be a durable and cost-effective solution for your business needs. Learning how to correctly fill and handle plastic barrels will ensure that they are as long lasting as possible.

If you need to know more about how to properly fill plastic barrels and which materials can be safely stored inside them, the expert team at ITP Packaging is here to help. Contact our friendly staff today for more information or to order your plastic barrels.

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