How to Dispose of Gas Canisters in the UK

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Gas canisters powering a camping lamp and a stove

Like batteries and aerosols, gas canisters are one of the trickiest items to know what to do with. High pressure and flammable gases make gas cylinders dangerous to dispose of in landfills or general waste bins, and it puts waste workers at risk if you do so. It’s important to understand how to safely dispose of gas canisters in the UK, especially if you’re planning or returning from a long camping trip.

Understanding the Different Types of Gas Canisters, Cylinders, and Bottles

Gas canisters, cylinders, and bottles come in various types, each designed for specific uses and containing different gases.

Gas canisters are typically small, portable containers used for camping stoves and portable heaters, often filled with butane or propane.

Gas cylinders are larger, sometimes high-pressure vessels used for industrial applications, medical gases, or large-scale cooking and heating, and can contain gases like oxygen, nitrogen, or acetylene.

Gas bottles are similar to cylinders but are generally used in residential settings for grilling, heating, or small appliances, and are commonly filled with Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

Understanding the specific type and intended use of these containers is crucial for their safe handling and disposal.

How to Get Rid of Camping Gas Canisters and Butane Canisters

Camper using a gas canister stove to heat water

Some shops that supply gas canisters for your camping trip will accept used canisters back for recycling. Otherwise, you will have to check your local recycling facilities to find out which ones will dispose of gas canisters.

Full Butane Gas Canisters

You cannot place full butane gas canisters in any recycling or general waste bin. Damaged canisters can cause fires and pose a severe risk to anyone nearby. Butane gas can put your health at risk if released, as its presence reduces breathable oxygen, and the gas is highly flammable.

You can empty a butane gas canister by burning off the excess gas. Burn it safely in the same way you’ve previously been using the gas, and let it burn until all of the gas is used up. Never do this inside or in a confined location, and make sure there are no flammable objects nearby before you start. It can be tempting, but you should never pierce a gas canister to empty it yourself.

If the canister is safe to use, local buy and sell groups may have people willing to purchase canisters for future use and it means the gas will not go to waste.

Empty Butane Gas Canisters

Many camping gas canisters are not designed to be reused for gas. An empty canister is the safest way to dispose of them, but still take care of the canister as trace gas may remain inside.

Can you Recycle Gas Bottles and Cylinders at Home?

No, disposal of Calor gas bottles and similar gas bottles cannot be recycled in a traditional manner. You cannot put gas bottles or cylinders into your recycling bin. Even empty gas bottles pose a risk if they have trace remnants left inside them.

Old used gas bottles and cylinders

Where to take empty gas bottles

Gas bottle companies operate the equipment necessary to empty and reuse them safely. Do not attempt to recycle a gas bottle at home - your good intentions can still hurt people if the canister gets damaged or explodes. 

Disposing of propane gas cylinders is easily done by returning to the gas bottle supplier or contacting local suppliers who may need additional gas bottles.

Propane is an extremely flammable gas and should be handled with care. A propane cylinder should be returned to the gas bottle supplier to be emptied, refilled, and reused. It’s possible that empty cylinders will be accepted by a recycling centre, but you should always check before dropping them off.

Whatever you decide to do with your bottles, make sure that your decision is a safe and ethical method of disposal. Gas bottles can cause fires and serious injuries when disposed of incorrectly, and there are plenty of avenues available to take both full and empty canisters off your hands, no matter the gas inside.

You can check for local disposal of gas bottles on the Recycle Now website.