Research and Development of a Cylindrical Drum Recycling System – LH06-OMNI

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Research and Development of a Cylindrical Drum Recycling System – LH06-OMNI

This project explores the adoption of a new environmentally friendly and worker friendly machine for a process.


OMNI Systems

Research Team:

Emory Zimmers, Kathleen Johnson, Ray Novotny, John McCullough, Michael Ratajczyk

Universities Involved:

Lehigh University

Start Date:


End Date:



The purpose of this research was to develop an environmentally friendly and worker friendly method to recycle 33-gallon and 55-gallon drums utilizing high pressure water jet (HPWJ) technology for label removal at OMNI Systems.
The development and adoption of this HPWJ equipment can have a positive effect on the logistical distribution and availability of recycled metal and plastic drums to U.S. companies involved in the global marketplace.
The recycle of 55 and 33 gallon metal and plastic storage drums is a large global business. This requires removal of the many paper and plastic labels adhesively bonded to the drums. The labels depict warnings, identify contents, require DOT and other government notices, etc.

Several environmentally and worker unfriendly methods are currently in use that employ open flames, caustic solutions and manual wire brush techniques. OMNI Systems’ approach is to apply high pressure water technology to remove the labels. This promises to be an environmentally and worker friendly automatic machine process.
The use of HPWJ to remove labels when recycling drums has broad positive environmental, ergonomic, and economic implications as compared to current methods of label removal. Tests with Flow International Corp. resulted in successful feasibility tests which proved HPWJ can readily remove paper and vinyl adhesively bonded labels from metal and plastic drums. However, the cost for such a machine would have to be less than $125,000 for the target market (independent job-shop drum recyclers) to be interested in purchasing the equipment.