The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) is calling on the liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and compressed gas bottling industry to provide a bottle collection service that is free to the metal recycling industry.
In a recent meeting with gas cylinder representatives, the BMRA put forward the idea of a producer responsibility deal where the producers of gas cylinders are responsible for collecting discarded bottles.
Currently, many of the cylinders are making their way into scrap yards because the public do not know how to dispose of them, they are not being sorted properly at civic amenity sites or because they are being concealed in bales of metal or in the boot of cars, which are to be scrapped. Although some brands do collect used gas cylinders once they are finished with, they may charge up to £50, and may refuse to collect those cylinders that are not their own brand or those that are broken.
According to BMRA director general Ian Hetherington the problems associated with gas bottles are “extremely serious” for UK metal recycling facilities. He said: “If these cylinders are hidden and end up in the shredder in-feed, they can explode, causing damage to the shredder and a lot of noise. Although they do not pose a major health and safety risk, explosions are intrusive to neighbouring businesses and local residents.”
Due to the high cost of having the cylinders collected and properly disposed of, scrap yards are stockpiling the cylinders. “The steel is valuable,” Hetherington explained, “but nobody wants the cylinders because they’re dangerous.”
Hetherington said civic amenity sites also have a problem with collection and disposal of the cylinders : “There is a sense of urgency, partly because the Environment Agency has expressed its concern of the issue and the Health & Safety Executive is keeping a watchful eye over it.”
Ahead of the recent meeting, notes from a meeting of the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum described the LPG manufacturers as “reluctant to engage”.