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Steel Drums

Our members manufacture and supply Steel Drums in a wide variety of designs and sizes

Steel Drums have a proven track record of safety containing and transporting a wide variety of products around the world.

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The cylindrical steel drum has been used for the carriage of liquids for the whole of the twentieth century.

It is a robust and versatile container manufactured from mild steel in diameters ranging from 165 millimetres to 571.5 millimetres and is used to carry virtually everything that is capable of being poured, from foodstuffs to the most hazardous chemicals. In its full open top form it is also used to carry powders, pastes, greases and the more viscous liquids. Despite the very large range of sizes produced, the industry is characterised by the 210 litre (45 gallon) steel drum which accounts for 86% by weight of the total quantity manufactured in the United Kingdom.

Because it can be rolled, the cylindrical drum is the only form of large package than can be handled safely by one man without the need for mechanical handling equipment or prepared surfaces. It is largely for this reason that the steel drum remains the most popular form of shipping container in all corners of the world.

Manufactured on high speed dedicated production lines, the steel drum can be produced cheaply in very large quantities to the very highest standards of quality and design. It is uniquely strong and is therefore regarded as the safest form of container for the most hazardous materials.



Steel's proven performance demonstrates its suitability as a packaging solution for commercial and industrial uses. Its inherent properties enable the steel drum to provide:

  • Versatility - the packaging solution for a wide range of products

  • Environmental Strength - an excellent recycling profile combining Recycling and re-use

  • Security - offering protection and preservation for diverse contents, from baby food to hazardous goods

  • Safety - steel's strength provides unrivalled protection against fire, rupture and leakage

  • Durability - reconditioning and recycling offering unlimited future use

  • Stackability - providing effective storage and transportation in all environments

  • Simple Compliance - for drum manufacturers and fillers to meet Producer Responsibility recycling targets


The steel drum is the perfect example of a container which benefits from a higher effective and well-established infrastructure for reconditioning and recycling.


Unlike any other industrial packaging material, reconditioned steel drums have the advantage of meeting the same legal and safety requirements as new steel drums.

Steel drums have a significant re-use expectation and are serviced by a worldwide, dedicated reconditioning industry through licensed agents. Drum makers provide for the collection of used containers and the supply of reconditioned packaging, making multi-trip usage simple and cost-effective.



When steel drums have reached the end of their current life they can be easily recycled. Scrap drums are segregated and processed for return to processors where they are recycled to make new steel. This extensive infrastructure, combined with steel's magnetic properties, ensure a high quality of scrap, making steel drums the ideal choice for recycling.

Steel drums are often collected alongside other standard grades of steel scrap.

To ensure steel drum scrap is counted towards meeting recovery and recycling obligations, the UK Steel Association, the British Foundry Association and the British Metals Federation have signed a joint agreement with the Environment Agency that recognises the retrieval of commercial and industrial scrap.

Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) can be issued by reprocessors for this industrial packaging waste.



Steel scrap is the only material recovered for recycling that is an essential ingredient for the production of new material, with all new steel containing up to 25 per cent recycled steel. This inherent recyclability makes it easier for companies which handle or use steel drums to meet their UK recycling targets, introduced on January 1998.

  • Recycling steel saves energy and natural resources

  • Every tonne of steel drums recycled saves:

    • 1.5 tonnes of iron ore

    • 70% of energy

    • 0.5 tonnes of coal

  • 40% of water required in production

  • All steel drums are reusable and recyclable

  • Steel retains all its properties through the recycling process

  • Extensive steel drum recovery infrastructure makes recycling easy for business

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