Most people will agree that the maximum re-use of packaging reduces the long term mis-use of our natural resources. To this end, the steel drum has served as a long time example of a multi-life package that, with proper reconditioning, can faithfully serve as many as 6 recycling procedures while maintaining a UN certification. However, the longevity of a steel drum rests in the "birth criteria" from which the original drum is constructed. Since Performance Oriented Packaging Standards (POPS) now govern packaging design, many steel drum manufacturers are demonstrating that their drums can meet the test criteria while being constructed of metal walls as thin as 0.6 mm (24 gauge). Though not apparent visually, a 55 gallon drum of 24 gauge steel looks the same as a drum of 16 gauge but the real difference is in the weight and the metal wall protection. Valued as an "international currency," steel drums constructed for re-use (per CFR 173.28) must have minimum wall thicknesses of 0.92 mm or 20 gauge. When constructed from steel equal to or greater than this lower limit, the ability to sell or dispose of these empty containers is great. Below this minimum gauge, the drums are not allowed to be reconditioned and therefore, get sent for scrap — a more costly option then reconditioning. It‘s a waste of raw material, results in a high back-end cost, and depletes our natural resources. Buy for re-use, not refuse.