Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How to Recycle Small Propane Canisters

Do you have propane canisters piled up in your garage or storage shed? Bet you’re wondering if or where you can refill or recycle them. Recycle, yes; refill, no.

  • Here are a few places that recycle small propane canisters for scrap metal. 
  • Metro Gas: 790 W. 64th Ave., Denver, CO (303) 428-3036
  • Rooney Road Recycling Center: 151 S. Rooney Rd., Jefferson County, CO (303) 316-6262
  • Weld County Household Hazardous Waste: 1311 N. 17th Ave., Greeley, CO (720) 652-4200 x2233
  • Boulder County Household Hazardous Waste Facility: 5880 Butte Mill Rd., Boulder, CO 80301 (303) 441-4800
Be sure to call or check on line before taking propane canisters, or any recyclables, to one of these sites. Some are drop off sites, have limited hours, or have a minimal charge. All limit use to residents of the county or municipality they serve. For example, for Jefferson County residents the Rooney Rd. site will take canisters on Wednesday and Saturday between 8:00-2:00 by appointment only. There is a $5 charge.

Why aren’t these small canisters refillable? According to Collin at Metro Gas, the small canisters are too dangerous to refill because of the light weight of the metal from which they are made. They can however refill 5 pound and larger canisters. Staff at Metro Gas can build hoses to connect to camp stoves and grills to accommodate 5 pound canisters. This could be useful for car campers, but unhelpful to backpackers.

Nathan Hamm of Cascade Design explained that, “canisters cannot legally be refilled. It’s physically possible to refill canisters, but it’s not safe to do so. The canisters are not designed to be sturdy enough to handle repeated use. The canisters also lack an overflow prevention mechanism, which is required for refillable canisters.”

REI did a pilot program to see if they could offer a recycling service for canisters. Due to the complexity of recycling potentially dangerous canisters, they decided they couldn’t provide this service.

Here are two all around good web links for general recycling:
Colorado Recycles: http//

Earth 911:

To search for a canister recycler in your area look under “Metal (scrap)” and select your appropriate county or municipality.

Bottom line, we each need to take responsibility for our own canister recycling using the limited resources out there.

Carol Ordemann
Denver CMC Conservation Committee Member
Pine Beetles Information: Mountain Pine Beetles

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