A question we’re always asked is “what’s the best way to dispose of old fire extinguishers in the UK?” You can’t simply put them on the kerb on bin day.
It is essential that outdated or used fire extinguishers are responsibly disposed of in order to protect the environment and to ensure that every recyclable component is reused. While the contents and pressurised nature of a fire extinguisher mean they’re classified as hazardous waste, the actual components are generally made of aluminium alloy, steel or plastic.
Extending the Life of Fire Extinguishers
With regular fire extinguisher maintenance, you can extend the life of each unit. The service engineer will check and replace any deteriorated parts to ensure the extinguisher remains pressurised and doesn’t corrode.
However, when they start to become troublesome and in need of repair or refurbishment, purchasing a replacement fire extinguisher is often the more cost-effective option. That way, you’ll have a brand new fire extinguisher that’s fully-functioning and compliant to the latest standard, with a fresh new warranty.
The one downside is that you then need to get rid of your old, used or condemned fire extinguisher.
Disposing of Fire Extinguishers
When you have one or two fire extinguishers which need disposing of, we always advise our customers to contact their nearest refuse recycling centre. A free option, they have the capacity to dispose of a few cylinders.
Failing that, your local scrap metal centre may be able to help. While you may receive a little pocket money in return, the cost associated with emptying and dismantling fire extinguishers safely and responsibly may mean they’ll just take them off your hands without payment.
For businesses with a large number of fire extinguishers, paying for a waste or service company to come and dispose of them is your best option.
Fire Extinguisher Disposal for Businesses
First of all, use them as a useful training exercise. Allowing your staff to set off a fire extinguisher means they’re experienced in their use. As a result, if they’re ever required to use one in an emergency, it isn’t such a daunting experience and they’ll know exactly what to do.
Business owners have a legal duty of care to dispose of any waste properly, so only use a company that complies with the ADR, has a license to carry controlled waste and has facilities to deal with pressurised containers.
Your current service company will be able to provide this service for a small charge. If you’re looking for a non-contract disposal service, Fire Protection Online also provide the certificated service, with current rates at £5 + VAT per fire extinguisher, plus collection.
How Are Fire Extinguishers Recycled?
Sorted into different types, the contents are emptied and often responsibly treated, recycled or disposed of. Once depressurised, each component is taken apart, including headcaps, valves, tubes and cartridges, which are either recycled or scrapped according to their condition.
If the cylinder is in good condition, then it could be refilled and reused, otherwise, it is cut in half with the metal recycled.