The history of blue plastic drums

Blue Plastic Drum Family

The classic sight of the blue plastic drum is one found in warehouses and on industrial sites all over the world.

Versatile, durable and dependable, the blue plastic drum is an essential component when it comes to safe and secure storage and transport of many different industrial goods.

Oils, foodstuffs and even dangerous chemicals and hazardous waste can all be safely contained within a blue plastic drum, making it a popular and cost-effective solution for many industrial companies.

Given its popularity, we decided to delve deeper into the history of blue plastic drums to find out why it’s the number one choice for many industrial businesses.


The major reason why the humble blue plastic drum is so popular is that it has many different uses. It might not look especially impressive, but the blue plastic barrel can safely contain everything from olive oil to harmful chemicals.

Blue plastic drums have found a vital place in many industries, in both transport and storage capacities. They are easy to fill and empty, can be moved around and stacked in warehouses, and safely sealed and used for transport.

Plastic drums are generally UN certified and of food-grade quality.

A few of the most common substances stored inside plastic drums include the following:

  • Solvents
  • Chemicals
  • Hazardous waste
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Oils
  • Liquids
  • Lubricants
  • Grains
  • Foodstuffs


Blue plastic drums are manufactured using a particular type of plastic, known as HDPE or high-density polyethylene.

Barrels and drums have been used for centuries for storage and transport. The earliest such containers were made of wood or clay, materials that were readily available. A century ago, steel production made possible the manufacture of steel drums, and this was soon followed by the synthetic manufacturing of plastic drums and barrels.

Technological advances ensured that plastic could be produced en-masse, cheaply. HDPE was specifically designed to be strong and durable enough to contain even the most hazardous of chemicals, and it quickly became a popular material through the 20th century.

HDPE, a polymer-based plastic, doesn’t react with many common materials, and won’t react with many other chemicals and substances, making it perfectly suited for an industrial role.

HDPE barrels are produced using plastic moulds, which allow for a smooth, cylindrical-shaped drum to be easily produced in large numbers, keeping costs very low.


The blue colour of industrial plastic drums has become a trademark for the design. Today, the blue colour quickly identifies the drum as an HDPE plastic drum.

Most plastic drums manufactured for an industrial capacity are coloured blue, as this is the industry standard. The original reasons behind the colour blue were very practical, however.

Blue has a higher UV resistance than other colours that could have been used for drums, and this allowed the drums to become more versatile. The UV resistance makes drums suitable for food storage, for instance.

These days, while blue is still the primary colour of plastic drums, they’re also manufactured with black-tinged HDPE or even transparent HDPE, if they have a particular usage.  


There are a whole range of benefits attached to using blue plastic barrels for storage and transport of industrial goods.

For starters, blue plastic drums are one of the most cost-effective pieces of storage equipment you can purchase, which makes them a great choice for storing bulk quantities of industrial materials.

They’re incredibly versatile too, as we’ve already demonstrated. Importantly, they are also recyclable. That means that after a thorough cleaning and decontamination, you can reuse a plastic barrel once used for storing chemicals, and use it instead for transporting lubricants.

Plastic drums are durable, and they can last many years before they need replacing, while a wide range of attachments, such as bungs, nozzles, and drum liners provide an even wider scope for use.


At ITP Packaging, we stock a huge range of containers that meet industrial storage needs. One of our most popular industrial storage containers is the classic blue plastic drum, which we stock in a range of designs and capacities to fulfil a variety of functions.

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

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