A propane tank can remain in good use for 12 years from the date of manufacture; after that, it should be disposed of properly. Remember that handling empty tanks properly according to the local codes is important, especially if you do not want to get involved in legal penalties later on.
We will detail all the important steps for safe propane tank disposal in the following sections; scroll down for more!
How to Dispose of Propane Tank
You should search for a nearby disposal site to dispose of small propane tanks; for larger tanks than 5 pounds, contact local authorities and request assistance for propane tank removal. If there are no disposal sites around your neighborhood, take the tanks to a scrap metal yard.
Step 1. Store the tank somewhere safe before disposal.
Before progressing to further steps, store the tank safely in your house first.
- Do not put it in the garbage and trash; since they are pressurized, these tanks might explode when compressed and endanger everyone in the neighborhood.
Plus, the sanitation department will not pick up those tanks anyway, though several municipalities do exempt small or portable tanks from this rule (e.g., those under 910g or 2 pounds).
- Avoid storing it under the sun or at high temperatures. Your tank will likely have leftover gas at the bottom, which expands when heated up and bursts open the valves, increasing the risk of a fire.
Instead, you should place it in a shaded, cool space (preferably not indoors, in case of leaks). Ensure the ambient temperature does not reach 49 degrees C or 120 degrees F.
Step 2. Remove the leftover propane
As mentioned, the tank might have some propane left, transferrable to another tank for continued usage. Nevertheless, removing flammable fuel is dangerous since the tank is pressurized. We suggest contacting a licensed expert to depressurize the bottle and remove the propane for you.
Step 3. Bring the tank to a disposal site
Many states and regions have designated sites for people to dump hazardous waste that cannot be thrown into regular garbage or trash. If you cannot google or find it by yourself, contact your local supplier or navigate to government websites.
Most disposal and collection sites accept tanks of up to 2300g (5 pounds), making the disposal of small propane tanks quite straightforward. For tanks larger than 5 pounds, you probably have to reach out to the local government and request someone to come over and handle it for you.
Step 4 (Optional). Take it to the scrap metal yards as a last resort
If you cannot bring the tank to any disposal site or collection center, scrap metal yards will be your best bet. They are likely to accept empty propane tanks – but to make sure, call them ahead to confirm first.
Can I Recycle Instead of Discarding It?
Yes, but only when your local authorities or the hazardous waste centers approve of the recycling. Follow these steps:
Step 1. Double-check the local regulations. Check whether recycling is even allowed in your region – since different states and living areas do not share the same protocols. Take note of other specific requirements as well, if any.
Step 2. Empty the tank. Contact a professional to have the remaining propane entirely removed for safety, which can still be reused when transferred to another tank. Then, get rid of all the attached valves and hoses in the tank.
Step 3. Contact a recycling center. Like disposal sites, you can google the recycling centers, search for nearby addresses on government websites, or consult local authorities. Call the centers to schedule an appointment and confirm if there is any specific instruction you need to follow.
Step 4. (Optional). Mark your tank. Some facilities might ask you to mark your tank to signal that it is recyclable and empty, making it easier for workers to identify safe tanks among the thousands of propane bottles they receive daily.
Step 5. Transport your tank. Bring the tank to the recycling center on the appointment day. If the tank is large or you have multiple tanks, ask the center whether they have any specific drop-off location or pickup service.
You Can Find A Place To Exchange These Tanks!
If the tank has been well-maintained, consider leaving it at a propane retailer to get a new, full tank of similar size. Some propane suppliers even have 24/7, self-serving exchange depots near local hardware stores, convenience stores, and gas stations.
While some suppliers might ask for extra fees, many will allow you to enroll in the exchange program at no cost.
Discarding old tanks is a straightforward process, though extra caution is still required to keep yourself from legal penalties and potential injuries. You can also recycle the tank or exchange it with a new one if it’s still in good condition.