The steel barrel of 200 liters is the first choice of packaging for many materials such as solvent-based products, highly inflammable materials, or hot fillings and is an absolute standard in many industrial areas. However, according to the Biganzoli* study, 37 percent is already damaged after the first use and is therefore disposed of. The company Roundliner GmbH assigned Fraunhofer UMSICHT with a study on eco-balance to determine how the majority of the barrels are reused using inliners – a tailored and exchangeable lining for barrels – and in combination with various processing methods and how CO2 emissions can be reduced. The result: by up to 73 percent.
A steel barrel causes greenhouse gas emissions when transporting materials from the extraction of raw materials to the production and final recycling. Fraunhofer UMSICHT quantified the resulting amounts of greenhouse gas emissions in an eco-balance study and disclosed them in kg CO2 equivalents.
Analysis of five scenarios
Five different scenarios were examined. A steel lid barrel with an internal inliner is examined in the first scenario. This is recycled after use with the refurbishing process – this means that the inliner is disposed of and the sealings are renewed. In a second scenario, the researcher analyzes the same type of barrel without an inliner and recognizes a subsequent reconditioning of the barrel. The barrel is cleaned, burnt out, and repainted for this purpose before the sealings are also renewed. In the third scenario 3a, a steel sheet barrel with an inliner with subsequent reconditioning is examined. In addition, the variants steel sheet barrel without inliner with subsequent reconditioning of the barrel and reprocessing to a barrel with lid after the first use (scenario 3b) as well as a steel sheet barrel without inliner for single use and subsequent recycling of the barrel (scenario 3c) are analyzed.
Less greenhouse gas emission by using inliners
The ecobalance study shows the greenhouse gas emissions from production, transport, and final disposal or recycling of the shipping barrels. “By assessing the barrels from cradle to grave – over their entire useful lives, we found that the use of steel lid barrels with inliners and subsequent refurbishing (scenario 1) emits 37.8 kilograms of carbon dioxide per evaluation period, assuming five uses (=evaluation period)”, explains Dr. Daniel Maga, group lead sustainability and resource management at Fraunhofer UMSICHT. 86 percent of the overall are attributable to the production of the steel barrels without deducting the recycling and only 8 percent to the production of the inliner. “However, steel sheet barrels without recycling emit 141kilograms of carbon dioxide per evaluation period and thus cause 73 percent more emissions”. This is how the scientist emphasizes the significant differences in emissions. And even comparing these with the scenarios that take into account reconditioning, the use of inliners can save around 40 to 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
The results of the eco-balance study at a glance: The use of steel lid barrels with inliners causes the lowest CO2 emissions in the different scenarios.