A hazardous waste label is an important step when preparing a drum of harmful or dangerous goods for transportation. The specific intent of all hazardous waste labels is intended to communicate the specific hazards that the packaging may pose. The markings on the label ensure that the material is handled properly to prevent accidents, spills, or exposure and for the handlers to know what to do in such an occurrence. Correct hazardous waste labels provide detailed information that is vital, if not critical, to make certain the safety of those handling and transporting the drums is ensured.

Hazardous Waste Drum Shipping Design & Materials

In addition to proper labeling, containers used for shipping hazardous waste must be specifically designed to hold or contain allowable dangerous goods safely. Essentially, drums come in two designs and two materials. By design, drums for hazardous waste shipping feature either an open or a closed head. As the name suggests, an open-headed drum cover is removable for use with such contents as thick liquids or solid materials. Once filled, it is clamped and bolted shut for shipping. The covers for closed-headed drums are permanently attached and have one or two resealable plugs for filling and dispensing low viscous liquid waste.

The most common materials for drums are steel or polyethylene. Selecting one over the other depends on the weight and the properties of the hazardous materials being shipped. Steel drums are regarded for their durability and strength. They can carry more weight than polyethylene, withstand just about any crash force, are intrinsically fireproof, are easier to reuse than plastic, and, therefore, offer a greater degree of safety and long-term value. A reduced incident risk with steel also means slightly lower insurance costs for transit. That said, a steel drum is more costly to purchase. Its excessive weight adds to the shipping cost, and the range of hazardous waste steel can hold is limited to non-corrosive materials.

Polyethylene drums are about half the cost to purchase and half the weight of steel ones. Besides lower shipping costs, polyethylene drums are also capable of shipping corrosive materials. However, because they are less durable than steel, transit insurance costs will be higher. Where durability is required for corrosive wastes, polyethylene-lined steel drums are designed for shipping such material.

Preparing Drums for Transportation

Once drums are readied for transportation, they must comply with local, state, and federal regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have hazardous waste drum label requirements to be followed when shipping to enhance safety and environmental protection. The EPA determines the classes of hazardous waste to be marked and the correct labels to communicate the type of waste and its accumulation date. The DOT shipping and transportation requirements for hazardous waste labeling are determined by EPA guidelines and are much more detailed.

The most important requirements for a hazardous drum label would, at a minimum, would need to satisfy the DOT label requirements. There is no standardized label or marking format by the DOT or the EPA. Instead, regulatory guidelines about the information provided on the labels and markings.

All hazardous waste must be labeled and marked with the appropriate information. The labels are those familiar brightly colored, diamond-shaped labels with symbols and lettering identifying the characteristic of waste—corrosive, flammable, or poisonous. Labels have to measure at least 4 inches by 4 inches with specific information to convey to the handlers in legible print. Labels are extremely important to help prevent handlers onsite and at disposal facilities from mixing waste streams that could cause a major problem. Drums should have at least 1 label on them, clearly visible.

5 Hazardous Waste Label Requirements

The most important requirements of a shipper to be DOT compliant include:

1. Description of Waste

The markings on each drum must have the words “hazardous waste” in print and must contain the composition of the waste and its physical state, along with a statement about the particular hazardous properties of the waste.

2. Generator Information

The hazardous waste generator information clearly states the name, address, and phone number of the responsible party for creating the waste. In addition, the generator’s EPA Identification Number and manifest tracking number must be included.

3. Accumulation Start Date

By law, hazardous waste can only be stored on a generator’s site for a certain amount of time. The date the generator began to accumulate the waste must be printed on the document.

4. DOT Shipping Name

DOT regulations require a Proper Shipping Name (PSN) when labeling shipments of hazardous materials. Proper shipping names are the standard technical name used to describe the hazardous properties and the composition of the material.

You need to choose a UN number (usually, 4 digits) and a proper shipping name from the Dangerous Goods List that can most accurately describe your dangerous goods. They will be used to label dangerous goods.

5. Applicable Waste Code

The EPA has assigned a 4-digit alpha-numeric waste code to identify the characteristics of a particular hazardous waste.

Contact the Experts at MLi Environmental

If you’re a generator and need to ship or transport hazardous materials, consult a professional to ensure that regulations are met. This can help you avoid time wasted or even costly fines for improper labeling. MLi Environmental can provide all the necessary labeling and packaging to remain compliant with your hazardous material shipping. Request a quote from us today!