Propane Canister Recycling

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    Michael B
    BPL Member


    Is the content in this article legit, or are they making something out of not very much?

    This seems like a good opportunity to “encourage” good stewardship for companies wanting to sell product somewhere. We have millions of Coleman propane canisters with no official or guaranteed way of recycling the canisters once they are used, at least in this region, according to the article. Could Coleman argue on any grounds that these canisters are not hazardous waste? Would it be unreasonable to tell Coleman that if you want to sell in a region, you need to ensure there is adequate means to recycle or at least safely discard the used remains in that region before you are allowed to sell your product there? I have definitely seen the piles and piles of these things all over places I’ve been. Maybe a proper way to ensure they don’t explode when trashed would be sufficient.

    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    I certainly agree that the mfrs should be taking back and recycling the empties – by law. There would be screams, but if all mfrs had to do it, it would stand up in court.

    Getting the retailers to accept them back however may be more difficult. What do you do when they simply refuse? The Police are not trained or equipped to handle this.

    You could of course refill them, but there are two problems with that. The minor problem is that it is probably illegal to do so. The big problem, which is why refilling is illegal, is that the average novice or home owner is most likely to blow himself up this way.

    Puncturing them should work, but the opportunities for disaster are large here too.


    Rex Sanders
    BPL Member


    Everything in the story is legit – how much of a problem in the big picture is hard to say. Coleman tried to go in the right direction – but consumers and recyclers didn’t cooperate. MSR, with much smaller mostly-butane canisters and a much different consumer mix, might have more success.

    But if even 0.1% of canisters are partly full when “recycled” by consumers in unexpected places – expect too many loud bangs.

    What might work: hefty deposits, plus point-of-sale take-back, plus a retailer contraption that safely vents the canisters and obviously marks them as safe.

    Or maybe banning single-use cylinders, while allowing reusable cylinders like the Flame King. Except sooner or later, those need safe disposal, too.

    No doubt similar problems for the ubiquitous 20-pound refillable propane cylinders. At least I can drag those to my local “resource recovery facility” for proper disposal. Or swap an old one for a full one at many locations.

    Tough problem.

    — Rex

    David Thomas
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    I don’t throw away old ones because I don’t buy new ones for $5 each –  I refill them with $0.60 of bulk propane.

    They do make good rifle targets.  After use as such, there’s no doubt wether they contain propane any more.

    Some items just don’t save the energy or resources to make sense recycling.  Alumnium cans do.  Small steel items, in general, don’t.  You waste more energy rinsing food cans out with hot water than can ever be recovered in recycling them, even if the sorting and transporting them somehow, magically, required no enegy or labor to accomplish.

    Rex Sanders
    BPL Member


    Even if recycling propane canisters doesn’t make sense for energy, resource, or economic reasons – I’d rather not have homes and landscapes littered with hundreds of millions of small, rusting bombs because nobody will take them.

    Plus they are dangerous in the wrong hands.

    YouTube video

    YouTube video

    Many more where those came from, often including impolite language.

    For the official view of refilling small, single-use propane cylinders:

    YouTube video

    And for a safer alternative:

    — Rex

    Ken Larson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Michigan

    EXCELLENT IDEA, but caution is required……

    Two Customer Reviews on Home Depot Site for Flame King 1 lb. Refillable Propane Cylinder

    This product should be recalled. I purchased these less than a year ago, stored them in a garage at all times, and refilled them maybe 3 times each. One of them is now leaking propane from the valve. The company has not responded to me. Earlier serial numbers than mine were recalled.

    Cylinders leak after filling Cylinders leak after filling.


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