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WASHINGTON — The market for reconditioned plastic drums and recycled plastics in new drums should grow because of a United Nations technical decision recognizing their use in shipping hazardous waste, an industry official said.

The decision by the U.N. Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods means that individual nations, including the United States, probably will follow suit and officially allow the materials to be used, said John Malloy, staff director of the Plastic Drum Institute, part of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Washington.

The United Nations never officially prohibited the materials from being used, but the decision gives plastics more credibility and puts it on a ``level playing field,'' he said.

About 10-15 percent of the hazardous materials shipped in the United States are sent in reconditioned plastic drums, and almost none are shipped in containers with recycled plastic, he said.

SPI and the International Confederation of Drum Reconditioners spent about 18 months lobbying the United Nations., and presented research showing that 55-gallon drums used in shipping one material could ship other hazardous materials safely.