Propane containers are excellent candidates for refilling because:
- The contents are a gas which completely exits the container leaving no residue needing cleaning;
- The containers must be strongly made for safety’s sake using valuable metals;
- The cost of the containers may rival the cost of the contents;
- Once the hardware is available, refilling is easily done;
- Bulk deliveries of large tanks which can be used for refilling are normal;
- Discarding empty cylinders is dangerous because they can create an explosive gas mixture, if air gets in.
Despite all these obvious advantages, it took many years for sellers to abandon the wasteful discard of used five gallon containers. Finally, for the sake of safety, to avoid dealing with nominally empty tanks that could still be dangerous, refilling was mandated by the government. However, small one-quart cylinders used for occasional home torches, still could not be refilled for years after the bigger five gallon cylinders were being refilled.
I am glad to say that this is changing. Alameda County California, a county not known for effective, environmental changes (but well know for superficial greenwashing) is requiring the refilling of one quart or one pound containers.
I will provide more details as I learn them. Meanwhile, congratulations are in order for Alameda County. This is one example of a Zero Waste success using normal ZW principles.