Infamous Plastic Drum

History of the Infamous Plastic Drum

Brought to you by Pat Frio of ADSupplies.


You just can’t get enough of them: bringing you fresh produce, helping clean our oceans, in the medical rooms, in your father’s shed (or maybe even yours!); and you bet you can use them for some awesome floats, furniture, storage bins, hydroponics, rain barrels, and we can’t forget water storage systems. So, what in the world might we be talking about you ask?

The Infamous Plastic Drum – not enough uses named for you yet, oh just wait!

So when I say you can’t get enough of them, I mean they are actually everywhere you wouldn’t even imagine. Traveling in Ko Panyi back in 2015, I snapped this incredible picture: a floatable boat made from the use of these plastic drums, holding an actual group of people.


A “sturdy” floating boat off the remote waters of Phang Nga Bay bordering southeast of Ko Panyi, Thailand.

I received a similar photo by one of my friends during her travels to Indonesia – here in the USA during will-it-float events on 4th of July, I always seem to be waiving to the winner with the raft made of…. You got that right!

We’ve seen our products from Brazil to the UAE or even in the middle of the Atlantic on an oil rig– because the uses for these products are infinite, allowing people to get through their everyday lives at a cost at one of the best prices possible. Now that you have an idea of the uses for the drums, look around and you should be able to find them a

 Why are these drums found all throughout the world?

Also known as high-density polyethylene drums, the reason these can be so easily found is due to their importance with the FDA. These are used as the international choice of packaging world-wide for shipping solid and liquid products.

These will be shipped by the pallet or truckload in bulk to food distributors and manufacturers throughout the world. When regulations are on the line, the fines can reach into the hundreds of thousands if safety isn’t taken seriously. These allow for safe and secure shipment of food products containing meats, fats, colorings, dyes, grains, herbs, juices, oils, vinegars, food flavorings, and you can’t forget the hops and yeast which allows for a beautiful creation known to us as “beer”! If it’s in the store shelf and you eat/drink it which is in demand, at one point it most likely was transported using these food-grade drums.


The US food industry is highly regulated when it comes to FDA-approved products for food storage. Once these drums have been transported with the food product their job has been accomplished. The second the goods are removed within the poly drums; the barrels now no longer meet regulations and will enter the waste stream. These cannot be re-used again to transport food products simply to ensure for the best and safest consumable products.

A creatively crafted set of garden beds.

But why is it that we often throw away these containers and not re-use them?


Great question, but there  actually are many re-uses for these drums after their initial uses and many that are creative!

ADSupplies is active in creating the least amount of waste and allowing for unlimited uses for these durable plastic drums. We advise if you live near a recycling center, these are a great way to allow for the reuse of them but before doing so see if there’s a use you might have. The food-safe plastic, UV resistant, UN rated, DOT rated qualities make them a great fit for attic storage & collecting rainwater for your garden. The list can go on and there are many other uses, these are just two of the most popular we often see and recommend.

We partner with manufacturing, logistics, and industrial dealers throughout the USA to make these UN rated/DOT rated food-grade drums available to customers wherever they might live in the US.

Kids can always be counted on to inspire fresh new ideas!


History of The Polyethylene Drum

Over the years, we have gradually made changes to the barrel to make it easily to produce at an affordable price. At 350 BC they had been using wooden watertight barrels for the transportation of wines from Armenian wines through what is currently the Middle East and parts of Northern Africa. This is iconic in that this tradition of storing wine has the two have come known to go hand in hand and even enhance flavor.

The use of barrels as storage containers is not a new concept. Originally, barrels were created from wooden planks and metal bands. These containers were excellent because they didn’t leak when filled with liquid and required no glue or nails to build. The iconic wooden barrel is still used to this day in wine and whiskey making.

In the early 1900s, wooden barrels gave way to a new more durable and easily machined material: Steel. Steel barrels were stronger, safer for use in transport and able to be manufactured on an assembly line with much less labor than wooden barrels. The steel drum is still widely used for liquid storage and transportation to this day.

More advanced technology and manufacturing practices in the late 1960s allowed for another iteration of the barrel to come about: the plastic barrel. Plastic barrels are made from high density, high molecular weight polyethylene (HDPE).

Polyethylene is an excellent material because it is inert and resistant to high or low pH contents. As foodies know, the acidity of food products can be high or low. Some materials, including food products, are caustic and can even break down steel. Have you ever left tinfoil over tomato sauce for an extended period? The undesirable result is a case in point: the sauce eats right through metal.

The use of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) as opposed to low density (LDPE) allowed for barrels to be created completely from polyethylene, as opposed to using a plastic liner in a steel drum.


How are plastic barrels made?

Blow molding is the special process which allows for the plastic drums to be manufactured. What occurs during the process of making the drum is what makes these patented machines so valuable to not just the industrial world, but also the medical world and everyday person. With this process it allows for the plastic to be shaped into numerous shapes and sizes that is seamless. The machine is connected to a unit of food-grade plastic (high-density polyethylene) pellets that enter from a feed at the top. The pellets are melted down to an exact temperature that moves down to the blow-pin located in the mold of the machine. When the machine has melted enough pellets to fill the necessary amount needed, the blow-pin uses compressed air to blow the plastic into shape. While doing this it leaves the drums to be seam-free, by following us on social media at ADSupplies_official you can see it happen up close. The benefits of the drums to not have a seam is a reason it’s food-approved, by allowing no excess buildup of any bacteria among heat spots. 

What’s the most popular color drum?

Let’s first break down the colors of drums. The most common colors made are black, blue, natural, yellow, but any color possible can be made within these molds. Since manufacturers buy these pellets in bulk to make the drums as low cost as possible, that doesn’t mean other colors won’t be run! Any color on the color is possible, but production will need to know in advance along with having a large enough order to make that possible.

By asking yourself what your intended use of these will be for can narrow down what color drum you will be needing. The 2 most popular colors are going to be the blue and black which have the two largest industries that use them the food industry and waste management. Blue pigment has become an industry standard for food storage for many reasons. Being the standard food-grade drum is due to the amount of UV light resistance that’s allowed through, halting bacteria growth.

The product that’s run 24/7 that typically aren’t used for in the food-grade storage are the black pigment drums. The reason behind them not being used for food storage is because the pellets are made from previously recycled plastic material which there is no certainty to what it was used for. The most common uses for these will be within waste management for proper disposal or to be incinerated.

  • Jan 27, 2020
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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