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Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Worthington Industries Celebrate Results of Cylinder Recycling Pilot Program; Announce Second Location for 2024

(HARTFORD) — They came. They camped. And for the first time as part of an organized program, they recycled pressurized gas cylinders. As the 2023 camping season winds down, Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and Worthington Industries announced today the successful collection and recycling of nearly 2,000 one-pound propane camping cylinders at Hammonasset Beach State Park Campground (Hammonasset) in Madison, Connecticut. Worthington Industries is a leading U.S.-based cylinder manufacturer and spearheaded the development, implementation, and management of the season-long pilot program.

The initiative stems from the May 2022 passage of Connecticut Public Act No. 22-27 (HB 5142) requiring an industry-managed stewardship recycling program for certain residential gas cylinders. The law applies to cylinders commonly used for camping, grilling, DIY projects and celebrations requiring portable propane and butane, hand-held torches, and portable helium. In Connecticut, industry management of the reclamation process stands to deliver up to $200,000 in state savings annually, in addition to environmental benefits from the removal of these recyclable cylinders from the municipal solid waste system.

Connecticut State House Environment Committee Chair Representative Joseph P. Gresko (D-Stratford) was one of the leading voices seeking an extended producer responsibility (EPR) initiative for residents, government, and the environment.

“I am excited by the results of the Hammonasset pilot program,” Rep. Gresko said. “In addition to properly and safely recycling thousands of cylinders, we demonstrated that free, convenient, and accessible collection can influence and change behaviors. We are positioning Connecticut for a highly impactful program.”

The initial phase of the pilot included four recycling bins fabricated by Worthington Industries. Disposal doubled from approximately 275 cylinders in June to more than 550 in both July and August. Further, what is going into the bins is what is supposed to be going into the bins. The contamination rate from other materials is less than one percent.

Based on the success of the Hammonasset 2023 pilot and in preparation for a broader rollout, Worthington Industries plans to continue the program there in 2024 and will also replicate it at Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme, Connecticut.

In addition to Worthington Industries, nine other residential gas cylinder producers plan to implement the recycling program statewide by October 1, 2025. They will do so as the Cylinder Collective, which is a 501(c)(3) stewardship organization. Corporate board members leading the Cylinder Collective include Cascade Designs, Coleman Company, Flame King, Johnson Outdoors, Manchester Tank, Worthington Industries, and Zippo.

The Cylinder Collective submitted a program plan earlier this year that was recently approved, according to Annie Lane, chairwoman, Cylinder Collective, and director of product sustainability for Worthington Industries’ Consumer Products business. As part of this first-of-its-kind program, the Cylinder Collective will coordinate arrangements with qualified companies to pick up, transport and recycle cylinders sold in Connecticut. The program also includes consumer education about the proper end-of-life management of residential gas cylinders and locations of collection sites.

“DEEP is thrilled with the initial results from this gas cylinder recycling program, which is the latest in a series of successful extended producer responsibility programs in Connecticut, for items such as paint and mattresses,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “EPR is an approach that works, and this program has helped to keep this household hazardous material out of landfills and waste to energy facilities where they can cause significant problems. We look forward to hosting the program at Hammonasset again next year and expanding to Rocky Neck, and we will work closely with the Cylinder Collective in the important months ahead for a robust and seamless launch in 2025.”

Cylinders collected from Hammonasset are sent for processing to a vendor that specializes in recovering the gas and recycling the metal. Cylinders collected during the pilot are currently being recycled at a 100 percent rate, noted Jennifer Heaton-Jones, executive director, Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority (HRRA). The HRRA is the regional, governmental, solid waste and recycling authority for the Housatonic Valley municipalities in western Connecticut. Heaton-Jones and the HRRA helped identify a certified waste management vendor to do monthly collections at Hammonasset and remain involved to extend the program to support more municipalities’ waste management efforts.

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