If you do much camping in California (and likely more states very soon) get ready to say goodbye to the ubiquitous little green propane cylinders you’ve used your whole life. You have at most about five years left before those puppies are verboten. The CA State Assembly voted this week to ban the sale of single-use one-pound propane canisters and Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the bill (SB 1256) as soon as it reaches his desk. The ban takes effect in 2028 giving manufacturers and retailers time to scale up refillable propane canister options.
“These 1-pound propane cylinders are often among the litter found in our parks and beaches, highly expensive for local governments to properly handle and dangerous for workers in our hazardous waste programs,” said State Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), a member of the Senate’s Environmental Quality Committee who sponsored the bill. “Putting in a five-year transition period gives the industry plenty of time to create a safe, refillable product, like it has with larger-sized cylinders. It is the environmentally responsible approach to take and will take a big burden off of our local governments.”
Some 4 million single-use propane canisters are sold in California each year and at most, 1 million are recycled. It’s difficult to tell whether these canisters are truly empty and as a result many people throw them in the garbage still containing propane. Waste facilities are forced to use special equipment to puncture the canisters and deal with them, an expensive process that costs municipalities millions of dollars per year.
There are some refillable one-pound canister options now, but they’re expensive and not widely available. Moving to larger propane containers like the Ignik Gas Growler is an option but they’re much larger than the small green canisters most people use for cooking and lanterns.
The bill exempts isobutane canisters used by most backpacking cooking equipment.
We’re looking forward to seeing what the outdoor industry comes up with as large-scale replacements.