Monday, June 27, 2011

Disposing and Recycling Stove Canisters

Although canister stoves are a wonderful addition to any multi-day hiking pack, they have the drawback of creating waste (I personally have and use a Snow Peak LiteMax). After doing some digging on the web and calling some local businesses and the city hall, it seems there are a couple solutions, some better than others ranging from cheap and easy to annoying and expensive. I'll start with what is probably the best option, and make my way down to the worst. (So, if you're pressed for time, just ignore anything after the first entry).

Best (DIY): Cheap, Safe, Environmentally Friendly, and Easy

The reason why you have to properly dispose of spent fuel canisters is that they are potentially dangerous. I.e. if there is any gas left in the canister and it is compressed (as done in trash compactors), it can potentially explode. Thus, it is imperative to ensure that there is no fuel left inside the can and to make sure it is safe to crush. To do this, you simply have to vent the can (stick your stove on it, and turn it on). If you hear that fuel is coming out for more than a couple of seconds, you probably don't have a completely empty canister yet. Once you hear no more sound and you are sure the canister is empty, you'll want to remove the stove and poke holes into it. Here you have several options.

In the Woods

If you're out in the boonies, you can take a sharp object (knife, tent stake, etc.) and pierce the canister. Although there should be no more fuel inside, I would avoid doing anything that may cause a spark (e.g. banging it with a rock) to be safe. You can then crush it by stepping on it, pack it out, and throw it in the nearest recycling bin.

At Home

While you can obviously use the same method as above, you can use a bottle opener with a pointy end (like this one). You can then toss it in the recycling bin.

Best (Commercial): Cheap, Safe, Environmentally Friendly, and Easy

Recently JetBoil came out with a gizmo called CrunchIt that lets you vent and pierce the fuel canister with one tool. It does exactly the same thing as the steps outlined above, albeit in one neat little package. If you don't already have a can opener that you can use, you might want to consider this one.

Once the canister is vented and pierced, you can throw it in the recycling bin.

Not To Bad: Cheap, Safe, and Environmentally Friendly

Although both of the above methods can be done on the trail or in the woods, if you don't feel like going through the effort of venting and poking holes in the canister, you can check to see if your local outdoors store will take them. For example, in my area (Boston, Massachusetts) the Eastern Mountain Sports store in Harvard Square will recycle them for you (other EMS' may also take them, but call ahead to find out). They said that they wouldn't charge for the service, but again, call ahead to make sure. I also contacted the local REI store, but at the time of writing (27 June 2011) they didn't have a recycling program in effect.

Nearly The Worst: Safe and Environmentally Friendly

The third option is to take your unvented, unpierced, canister to your local recycling center. Some recycling centers will take them for a fee and dispose of them for you. Alternatively you can go to a gas-canister refilling station such as a welding supply store and see if they take them. Again, they will most probably levy a fee for the service. For example, Igo's Welding in Watertown, Massachusetts charges $5. There is nothing really wrong with this option except that it costs money. And since you've already paid for the fuel canister, you probably don't want to spend more money to throw it away.

The Worst: Unsafe and Un-Environmentaly Friends

What you absolutely don't want to do, is just throw them in the trash. Not only can they potentially cause damage to the equipment (and people) that processes the trash, but it will most likely end up in a landfill. So, don't do this.

No comments:

Post a Comment