Cylinder Recovery & Disposal

Gas cylinders contain gases stored under pressure, this means they may have large amounts of stored energy, they may also contain gases which can impact on the environment. Under normal use gas cylinders are to be stored in accordance with BCGA CP 44, The storage of gas cylinders. When no longer required cylinders should always be returned back to their owners. At the end of their life it is vital to ensure they are handled safely and responsibly.

Some cylinders may contain special gases that will require particular handling and disposal requirements, e.g. those that may have an impact on the environment. Additional advice on these gases can be found in BCGA CP 18, The safe storage, handling and use of special gases.

The vast majority of industrial gas cylinders in circulation in the UK are the property of the main gas suppliers. They are supplied to gas users under a rental agreement, which requires the user to pay rental on the cylinder until its return. The majority of gas cylinders are re-usable and following a safety check they will be re-filled ready for the next customer.

The simplest and best way to deal with cylinders which are no longer required is to identify the owner and request that they be collected. Even if the cylinders were not originally supplied to the site where they are discovered, the gas company will make arrangements to collect them.

To identify the cylinder owner may be as simple as looking at the label. An example of a typical label is shown in BCGA TIS 6, Cylinder identification. Colour coding and labelling. Additionally, the name of the owner is usually permanently marked on the cylinder, for example, stamped into the metal on the shoulder of the cylinder.

Gas supply companies have their own contractual arrangements in place for the safe disposal of gas cylinders that are no longer required. Individuals who own gas cylinders e.g. sport divers, are to ensure the cylinders are safe for disposal before depositing them at authorised waste sites. This should include releasing all gas pressure in a safe manner and, where safe and practical, removing the valve assembly from the cylinder.

Where gas cylinders are received at a waste management facility BCGA L 2, The safe handling of gas cylinders at waste facilities, outlines the process to be followed to establish legitimate ownership and to ensure that a cylinder is in a safe condition for processing and disposal. It also includes contact details for the major gas suppliers.

The BCGA and the UKLPG have joined forces to improve the means by which cylinders belonging to their members can be removed promptly from civic amenity sites. By calling a maximum of three numbers these cylinders will be collected free-of-charge, within 15 working days, by authorised staff carrying appropriate identification. Under this arrangement advice can also be provided on the disposal of disposable or unbranded cylinders (call 0800 083 9652).

Contact numbers:

  1. BOC cylinders - 0800 111 333
  2. Calor Gas cylinders - 0800 121 4512
  3. All other cylinders - 0800 083 9652

To order A4 laminated copies of this poster for display at civic amenity sites call: 0800 083 9652.

Download a copy of the poster (English)

Download a copy of the poster (Welsh)

Where it is not possible to identify either the owner of the cylinder, and/or the contents of the gas cylinder, it may be necessary to employ a specialist organisation that has the technical and legal capability to collect and dispose of the gas and the cylinder. Several companies can help with the recovery / disposal of gases and the cylinders, including where the original supplier cannot be contacted. For LPG cylinders you should contact the LPG Trade Association UKLPG, who will provide advice on return or disposal of these cylinders.

Committees

Within BCGA cylinder recovery and disposal is the responsibility of Technical Sub-Committee (TSC) 8. Members can access information on TSC8 via the ‘Members' area.

Publications

BCGA CP 18, The safe storage handling and use of special gases

BCGA CP 44, The storage of gas cylinders

BCGA TIS 6, Cylinder identification. Colour coding and labelling requirements

BCGA L 2, The safe handling of gas cylinders at waste facilities

Useful links

The Environment Agency (EA)

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

Natural Resources Wales (NRW)

Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA)

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Cylinder recovery and disposal providers

Several BCGA member companies provide services for the recovery and disposal of gas cylinders. See the full list here.