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 CP18, The safe storage, handling and use of special gases.
The vast majority of 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 inspection they will be re-filled ready for the next customer.
When a gas cylinder is empty, or is no longer required, then the simplest and best way to return it is to identify the owner and request that it is collected. 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, Gas cylinder identification. Label and colour coding requirements. 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. Even if the cylinder was not originally supplied to the site where it is discovered, the gas company that owns the cylinder will make arrangements to have it collected.
Individuals who own gas cylinders e.g. sport divers, are to ensure the cylinders are safe for disposal before depositing them at an authorised waste management facility. This should include releasing all gas pressure in a safe manner and, where safe and practical, removing the valve assembly from the cylinder.
If you have a cylinder and/or valve that you believe not to be safe or compliant (with, for example, the Carriage of Dangerous Goods legislation) then, in the first instance, seek the advice of the cylinder owner and they will work with you to make the cylinder safe and put in place the necessary arrangements for the return of the cylinder.
In very rare cases, a cylinder and/or cylinder valve that has become damaged or that leaks, may require a special approach to ensure that it can be recovered safely and legally (for example, transportation in accordance with the Carriage of Dangerous Goods legislation). This is of particular concern where the gas contents are flammable or toxic. The cylinder may have to be moved to an installation which is able to make it safe – this activity is referred to as ‘salvage’. Salvage requires specialist equipment and is subject to its own set of rules. It should only be attempted by those with the competence, experience, knowledge and specialist equipment necessary to accomplish the task safely and legally.
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 BCGA Member companies can help with the recovery / disposal of gases and the cylinders, including where the original supplier cannot be contacted. For Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders you should contact the LPG Trade Association, Liquid Gas UK, who will provide advice on return or disposal of these cylinders.
Where gas cylinders are received at an authorised 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. Note that gas supply companies have their own contractual arrangements in place for the safe disposal of gas cylinders that are no longer required.
By calling the contact numbers below, these cylinders will be collected, free-of-charge, from an authorised waste management facility 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).
BCGA has produced posters listing these contact numbers or display at authorised waste management facilities. Copies can be downloaded in English and Welsh. To order A4 laminated copies, please call 0800 083 9652.
Several BCGA member companies provide services for the recovery and disposal of gas cylinders. Links to a number of those providers are available below. To view the full list, please click here.
Within BCGA cylinder recovery and disposal is the responsibility of Technical Sub-Committee (TSC) 2. Members can access information on TSC2 via the Committee Meetings page.
Provides technical and safety guidelines and principles for the safe storage and handling of special gases in transportable containers up to the point where product is provided at the required pressure and flow at the junction with the user process.Guidelines on disposal are also given.The safe operation of processes is not included, although many of the principles given in this Code will apply.Go To Download Page
This document defines the principles of safe practice for the storage of gas cylinders and bundles. It promotes the use of an external store, in a secure location, with good natural ventilation and away from any sources of ignition.Go To Download Page
An explanation of the content of a typical gas cylinder label and a guide to the colour coding system used on gas cylinders.Go To Download Page
Provides guidance on the safe and appropriate actions that should be taken to manage gas cylinders at a waste facility. This includes establishing that a cylinder is in a safe condition, any contents are identified and that there is a legal right to carry out any disposal activity.Go To Download Page