Constitution State residents will be able to recycle fuel cylinders thanks to a new EPR law. | Said Mantell/Shutterstock

Connecticut became the first state in the United States to address the danger of fuel bottles in the solid waste stream with an extended producer responsibility law.

Fuel cylinders can explode and cause fires at MRFs and other waste management facilities. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed a bill May 10 to reduce the risk.

PA 22-27 requires producer responsibility for cylinders such as those used for camping and grilling, and all others that contain portable propane, butane, and helium. Specifically, it covers “non-refillable and refillable cylinders containing flammable pressurized gas, helium or carbon dioxide, with a water capacity between 0.5 and 50 pounds, which are supplied to a consumer for personal, family or household use.

The law does not include medical cylinders or those containing oxygen, refrigerants, acetylene, hydrogen, ethylene or adhesive foams.

Under the law, producers will also have to educate consumers about proper end-of-life management and the location of collection sites.

Producers can act alone or form stewardship groups to meet their obligations. They aim to minimize public sector involvement in bottle management and provide “free, convenient, and accessible statewide opportunities” for collection.

Stewardship groups are responsible for setting their own performance goals for the first two years of the program. The Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection may charge each producer or group for administration fees based on their share of the gas cylinder market, according to the bill, and the fees annual totals for each producer cannot exceed $2,000.

Republican Senator Craig Miner, who helped push the legislation forward, said in a statement that “as a lifelong sportsman and outdoor enthusiast, I know the benefits of gas cylinders, but I also know that we we need a collection and recycling system to ensure proper disposal.”

Democratic State Representative Joseph Gresko also defended the bill. He said in the statement that the program “will serve Connecticut well and should be a model for other states to follow in pursuit of a sustainable future.”

The Product Stewardship Institute said in a newsletter that it had worked for two years to adapt its model EPR gas cylinder legislation and generate support for Connecticut’s bill.

“The smallest amount of residual propane can cause explosions and fires, which is why cylinders are usually rejected by recyclers, even if they are made of valuable materials,” the bulletin said. “But everything is about to change in Connecticut.”

Cylinder maker Worthington Industries helped shape the legislation, seeking input from stakeholders from local governments, retailers, waste management service providers, propane distributors, state parks, campgrounds private, college and state government.

Worthington also delivered a supporting report and recommendation to the state legislature. Now that the bill has the force of law, the company will work with other residential gas cylinder producers to arrange collection, transportation and recycling of the cylinders. The law requires them to submit plans by July 1, 2023 and implement them by October 1, 2025.

Annie Lane, director of product sustainability for Worthington Industries’ Consumer Products business, said in the release that Ontario’s extended producer responsibility (EPR) system for bottles was used as a model.

“We look forward to getting started in Connecticut and replicating this collaborative and innovative approach in other states to solve this recycling challenge,” Lane said. “We believe this proven formula includes maintaining a focus on results, ensuring a level playing field for like growers and products, providing proper oversight and enforcement, and establishing an achievable timeline to ensure successful implementation.”

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