Disposable Propane tanks and Camping

orangedropWith the increased use of small, disposable, single-use propane tanks, comes a huge environmental problem. They’re cheap and convenient for powering stoves and lanterns, but what do you do with them when they’re finished? Most municipal recycling programs will not accept small propane tanks even if they’re empty. Until recently, the only other option was to take them to the local Household Hazardous Waste facility and pay a fee to get rid of them. Obviously, a lot of people didn’t like the idea of wasting their time and money, so they threw the cylinders in the garbage, dumpster, bush or simply left them behind at campsites, even though these canisters require special processing for disposal or recycling.

The Orange Drop program was developed by Stewardship Ontario to deal with these issues and is fully funded by the industries that create and sell hazardous materials. Orange Drop creates accessible locations where citizens can safely drop off everything from batteries, pesticides, solvents, anti-freeze and pressurized cylinders (including propane tanks) completely free of charge. Different locations collect different materials, but for example; there are 6 locations in my town that will accept used oil filters.

There are roughly 90 Ontario provincial parks that accept disposable propane canisters for free through the Orange Drop program. All you have to do is drop the used cylinder into the orange cage, usually located in the same area as the garbage and recycling facilities in the park. It doesn’t matter what condition the canister is in or how much is left — releasing the gas into the air simply to empty the canister is discouraged. Just drop it and forget it. The contents are removed and packaged for resale where possible. Non-refillable metal cylinders and valves are recycled.

Is it working? In 2011, the first year of Ontario Parks participation, over 100,000 kg (220,000 lbs) of propane canisters were collected. Stewardship Ontario reports a 44% diversion rate for all Non-Refillable Pressurized Containers.

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