LIFE CYCLE INVENTORY OF SINGLE-TRIP AND MULTI-TRIP
STEEL DRUM SYSTEMS IN THE U.S., EUROPE, AND JAPAN
The newly published life cycle analysis compares the environmental,
energy and cost impacts of single-trip and multi-trip steel drums.
This ground-breaking report was prepared by Franklin Associates, which
is one of the most highly respected firms in the U.S. involved in this
kind of work.
1.2 mm multi-trip tight head / open head
The study reached several important conclusions:
1) The energy and environmental impacts of the multi-trip steel drum
systems studied were significantly smaller than for the corresponding single-trip
drum system; and
2) Net economic costs are lower for users of multi-trip steel drum systems
than for users of single-trip steel drum systems.
The LCA quantifies the environmental and energy impacts of the most
commonly used industrial packaging in the world – the steel drum.
It considers energy use and environmental emissions associated with the
production, reconditioning, recycling and disposal of these containers
in the U.S., Europe and Japan. In addition, a framework was developed
to compare net costs associated with the various drum systems.
Eight different combinations of tight head and open head 55 gallon steel
drums were examined for each country or region – a total of 24 drum systems
in all. The drums varied in weight (i.e., steel thickness) and in the average
number of trips taken before recycling. Three drum systems were multi-trip
and one was single-trip. The combinations were:
1.0 mm multi-trip tight head / open head
mm multi-trip tight head / open head
0.8 mm single-trip tight head / open head
Weights and trip rates were reported on the basis of 55,000 gallons
of product delivered, or 1,000 trips. Trip rates for multi-trip drums
ranged from a low of 2.3 (i.e. 1.0 mm tight head and open head in Japan)
to a high of 8.7 (i.e. 1.2 mm open head in Europe).
Some of the key study results from the report are summarized below:
1) The total energy requirements for multi-trip drums are significantly
lower than for single-trip drums. The tight head multi-trip drum,
for example, is nearly three times more energy efficient than single-trip
drums in the U.S. and Europe, and about 65% more efficient in Japan.
Open head multi-trip drums are 45% more efficient in Europe and the U.S.,
and about 22% more efficient in Japan.
2) Solid waste production associated with single-trip drum systems is
about three to four times that associated with multi-trip systems in all
3) Key atmospheric emissions for multi-trip tight head systems are substantially
lower than for single-trip systems. These include particulates, nitrogen
oxides and methane. Emissions from the open head multi-trip systems
are also less than for the corresponding single-trip system, but the variance
between the two is less than for the tight head systems.
4) Most waterborne emissions from multi-trip tight head drum systems
are between 30% and 80% lower than for corresponding, single-trip tight
head systems. Comparative waterborne emissions from open head systems
fall within the same general ranges.
5) The net cost to users of single-trip drum systems is higher than
for users of multi-trip drum systems. Savings from multi-trip systems
averaged about 78% in the U.S.; nearly 67% in Europe; and, about 42% in
Japan. Energy savings from multi-trip open head systems averaged
about 67% in the U.S.; 63% in Europe and 33% in Japan. Although these
cost values can rise or fall depending on variables such as fuel and the
scrap value of steel, it is clear that energy savings from multi-trip systems
will always be significant.
For simplicity, the charts below compare the savings between one of
the multi-trip drums and the 0.8 mm single-trip drum. Since the results
for the multi-trip systems were similar, we chose to use the 1.0 mm drum
because of it’s widespread use.
COST COMPARISON (1)
(US $ per 1,000 drum trips)
(1) All costs expressed in US dollars, based on public data prices of fuels
INITIAL COST (2)
TRANSPORT COSTS (3)
1.0 mm Tight Head
1.0 mm Open Head
0.8 mm Tight Head
0.8 mm Open Head
(2) Costs of steel and energy for producing the weight of steel drums
and lids required for 1,000 trips based on average trip rate.
(3) Cost of fuel for transportation to and from reconditioners for
1,000 drum trips. Includes initial transportation of new drums to user.
(4) Cost of fuels and chemicals used in reconditioning process.
(5) Value of steel scrap from drums required for 1,000 trips.
(6) Net cost = initial cost + transportation costs + use costs - scrap