WASHINGTON - A Minnesota company has petitioned the federal Department of Transportation for permission to use post-consumer plastic in barrels. The department is studying the request, and has allowed for public comment on the issue until June 30.
Currently, only post-industrial scrap is allowed in the drums' production.
Ten-E Packaging Services Inc. of Newport, Minn., has filed a request to use post-consumer high density polyethylene on behalf of Rehrig Pacific Co. of Dallas.
Rehrig Pacific plans to use up to 75 percent post-consumer HDPE by weight in its 6- and 7-gallon drums, according to the company's DOT application. The barrels would be used to transport hazardous waste.
Robert J. Ten Eyck, Ten-E's director of technical services, contended in the application that the primary post-consumer HDPE source would be from the food and beverage industry; 30 percent would come from products Rehrig manufactures, with the remainder from ``dairy crates, seed pails and pickle pails'' coming from other manufacturers.
The Department of Transportation's Research and Special Programs Administration took the unusual step of calling for comments on the question by announcing the two-month comment period in the April 28 Federal Register.
The DOT Documents Office, which records public comments, had received none by May 24.
``We wanted to solicit comment because the use of post-consumer recycled material is significant and potentially controversial,'' said Susan Murphy, a chemical engineer in the RSPA's Office of Hazardous Materials Technology.
Current law allows only ``regrind from the same manufacturing process'' to be used in the manufacture of new containers for hazardous waste.