Gas cylinders are dangerous when disposed of improperly. Even when we think they’re empty, small amounts of gas can remain that can cause explosions and fires. Metal recyclers typically refuse to accept cylinders unless they are visibly punctured and crushed. Because of the risks, they are costly to recycle and recycling options are few.
So, many people toss them in the trash or leave them at roadsides and campsites. Single-use one-pound gas cylinders (which are not safe or legal to refill) are particularly problematic. Our local, state, and national parks have to manage this excessive metal waste at taxpayers’ expense while the producers of these cylinders profit from the sales. Worthington Industries and Coleman are the major brands.
PSI advocates for “extended producer responsibility” (EPR) laws that require all gas cylinder manufacturers to provide recycling and refilling programs. Mandated EPR programs – like the OrangeDrop program in Ontario, Canada – make refilling and exchange outlets readily available to everyone. EPR programs also relieve governments from the burden of managing improperly discarded cylinders.
Voluntary manufacturer-run exchange programs for 20-pound gas cylinders work well, and refilling programs for reusable one-pound cylinders are beginning to take hold. But the growth of the refillable programs for one-pound cylinders is slow and they fall short of solving the problem.
20-lb Gas Cylinder Exchange Programs: The largest U.S. exchange programs for 20-lb propane tanks are operated byBlue Rhino and AmeriGas. These manufacturers collect, refill, and redistribute propane tanks for sale and exchange at retail sites (generally wire cages outside stores and gas stations). After a cylinder has been used for 12 years or has become corroded, the manufacturer recycles it.
The packaging is 80% of the price of single-use propane cylinders. Refillable options are earth friendly and save you money.
How We’re Leading the Way
PSI has paved the way for the reuse and recycling programs available today. Since 2001, we have brought together governments, businesses, and environmental groups to develop both voluntary and EPR programs for gas cylinders.
As EPR programs emerge and refillable propane cylinders grow in popularity, defining best practices is more important than ever. We provide technical support, evaluation, and recommendations to improve gas cylinder programs.
How You Can Help
Gas cylinder producers can fully fund and operate programs for safe, convenient cylinder refilling and recycling. EPR provides a level playing field so a few companies don’t have to carry the burden for the whole industry. Contact us to discuss opportunities for EPR programs.
Refill or exchange your large gas cylinders at approved AmeriGas and BlueRhino locations. You can buy a refilling kit, but it is always safer if a professional does it.