CDF Blog

    How the Drum & Pail Industry Has Transformed

    Liners Play an Important Role in Product Purity

    As though inspired by that expression, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” the drum & pail industry seems to be taking its cue from that. Setting the stage: 30 years ago, there were approximately 28 drum manufactures; today, there are probably a half dozen. The Right Liner for Your Drum and PailThe industry has changed in terms of who the players are, but the constant element remains: the packaging has not changed, and steel drum & pail containers are still the go-to packaging for transporting and storing hazardous or dangerous goods. When we talk about the drum industry, we’re mainly talking about steel drums—though there are fiber and plastic drums in use on the market, as well.

    One massive change in the market, though, are liners for the drum & pail packaging. Liners offer an economical and sustainable way to get the most use out of a steel drum—or any drum. Using a liner helps keep the drum clean and ready for re-use or recycling. Steel drums, with or without liners, are regularly “reconditioned,” which means they are cleaned by a third-party reconditioner and sold to be re-used. Adhesives and greases can be difficult to clean, so reconditioning isn’t always a viable option to ensure an extended life cycle of a drum. When using a liner inside drums, it makes the drum more palatable for a reconditioner to clean and get it back into a close-looped system. 

    Steel—the Preferred Choice

    Certainly, for the transport and storage of hazardous or dangerous goods, steel drums are a preferred choice. Steel drum are versatile and also used for food additives and concentrates, among other products. 

    According to, the exceptional benefits of steel drums include: 

    • Reduction in warehouse costs—very stackable, will not collapse under weighed pressure
    • Lower insurance rates—secure containment
    • Superior performance—extreme temperature, humidity and pressure variations, including fire conditions, highlighting the fact that steel drums maintain their structural integrity, which helps prevent leakage
    • Provide significant back-end savings
    • Sustainable and recyclable 

    This Why Steel Drums video does a fantastic job of explaining these benefits in more details. Watch CDF’s video below to learn about our complete drum & pail solution and see how easy liners are to install!  

    Sustainable Steel

    Steel is highly sustainable, in that it is one of the most recyclable products on the planet, more than all other materials combined. You read that right! As Why Steel Drums writes, “With a recycling rate of 88 percent, steel is recycled more than all other materials combined, according to the American Iron & Steel Institute. Steel can be continuously recycled with no loss of performance—a vital attribute for keeping products safe and secure as they move through the supply chain. 

    Today, two out of every three tons of new steel are produced from recycled steel and used to build millions of consumer goods, including automobiles, appliances—and even steel drums. Its endless recyclability, and capacity to endure, makes steel the very definition of sustainability.” 

    Drum & pail liners enhance this sustainability statistic in a few ways. As it relates to the refurbishing (reconditioning) process, when reconditioners collect drums from end users—which have generally been full of grease, adhesives, and/or chemicals—they have to use massive amounts of water to clean the drums. From a sustainability standpoint, if the drum or pail had a liner is in it, then they have a relatively clean drum, requiring less water to recondition it. 

    Let’s Take a Closer Look

    Let’s visualize this: if you have 20 drums with liners in them, you pull them out, you have 20 pretty clean drums. Step that up a notch (or a few thousand notches)—companies use hundreds, if not thousands, of drums. What does that mean for these thousands of drums with liners? They are: 

    • Easier to recondition
    • Use less water to clean
    • Get into the close-looped system quicker
    • Require relatively little down time before they get back into the supply chain 

    If you multiply this by the hundreds of thousand that the industry uses, it is cost effective and efficient for everyone. Even with a liner, drums & pails generally need to be properly reconditioned to satisfy customer standards. The reconditioners are getting better “raw” material to work with, which allows them to supply clean drums to the industry faster. With the increased efficiencies and tighter turnaround times, this this allows reconditioners to take on more work! 

    Liners + End User = Product Purity

    Beyond the benefits liners provide to reconditioners and transport and storage elements of the supply chain—sustainability, affordability, efficiency, safe and secure packaging—how do they add to the steel drum equation for the end users? Two words: product purity. This combination offers the best of both worlds; you get the integrity of a steel drum with the product purity benefits of liners. When you introduce a plastic liner to a steel drum, you are protecting the product and the drum. That kind of peace of mind is very valuable. 

    For companies not using drum and pail liners, consider the possible cost of not using a liner. Unless you are a company that manufactures or buys only new steel drums and always uses liners (which some CDF customers do), there’s a good chance your drums have been reconditioned. As skilled as reconditioners are, if you are packaging a food product and the drum doesn’t have a liner in it, then you are flirting with possibility of some sort of contamination. You wouldn’t want to serve up some food with a side of metal shavings, oil, or grease, would you?   

    Plastic Pails

    Steel drums, as versatile and pervasive as they are in the packaging industry, have their limits; there are some items that cannot go into steel. As an example, corrosives and acids will weaken steel, eventually eating right through it. Plastic drums are the obvious choice for these situations. Liners for plastic pails are as effective for the same reasons stated above. The recycling process for plastic pails involved washing them and regrinding them. What assurance do you have about what may—or may not—have permeated the regrind material? If you use a new liner every single time, you are assured of product purity. 

    Drum & pail liners solutions allow you to transport and store safely, securely, and efficiently. Explore your options to save time and money. Let’s discuss your new solution today—give us a call or reach out to us. We’re happy to talk with you and provide a free consultation to help you make the right choice for your needs. 

    Contact a Specialist Now!


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