What are the Different Types of Hazardous Materials Packaging?

Tess C. Taylor

There are as many different types of hazardous materials packaging as there are hazardous materials. Packaging may be used primarily for storing, disposing, and transporting liquid and solid hazardous materials. The main types of hazardous materials packaging include plastic bags and containers, dry compartments, chemical-resistant cartons, and rubber-sealed barrels, chests, and lockers.

Plastic containers are often air tight to prevent exposure to hazardous materials.
Plastic containers are often air tight to prevent exposure to hazardous materials.

The most common types of hazardous materials packaging found in homes, health care centers, and commercial facilities are plastic bags and containers. These may be used to store and dispose of a variety of hazardous waste from household chemical waste like old paint and motor oil, to medical hazardous materials, and large quantities of commercial waste. Plastic containers are most often heavy and air tight to prevent exposure to hazardous materials during the disposal or shipping process.

Nuclear waste must be safely transported and stored.
Nuclear waste must be safely transported and stored.

In some cases, hazardous materials packaging is as simple as a plastic-lined cardboard container that can be used for dry chemical storage and disposal. These are called dry compartments. They are most often used in agriculture and pest-control industries. Dry compartments prevent powered hazardous waste from becoming airborne and contaminating the air, water, or land around where it is stored. Cardboard containers also allow for the incineration of certain types of hazardous waste.

Proper hazardous waste management sometimes demands the use of heavy-duty metal containers such as barrels, chests, tanks, and lockers. This type of hazardous materials packaging can be used for sewage that must be contained and processed to prevent contamination of drinking water. Waste that cannot be completely broken down by natural and chemical processes must be kept inside rubber-sealed metal containers and tanks that can hold thousands of gallons of waste.

Hazardous waste management often requires the transport of volatile waste from a processing facility to a storage or disposal facility. Examples of this could include commercial chemical waste or nuclear waste. In these cases, hazardous waste must be packaged in containers with the highest safety rating and carried on large truck beds or inside specially designed hazardous waste tanks. When the waste is safely transported to its destination, special safety standards must be used to carefully place the waste into lead-lined holding tanks or underground burial chambers. This prevents the waste from contaminating the water supply or soil.

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