Little Kamper propane tank exchange program aims to keep hazardous waste out of California's parks
From Yosemite campsites to stadium tailgate parties, 1lb propane tanks are the popular way to fuel portable BBQ's, camp stoves and lanterns. So popular that it's estimated that over 40 million of the dark green tanks are sold every year. The big problem with those little tanks is the cost of cleaning up the hazardous waste they leave behind.
Enter the Little Kamper 1lb propane tank exchange, a sustainable alternative to disposable tanks. Using a DOTcertified refillable 1lb tank, the Little Kamper program puts tanks on participating retailer shelves and allows customers to buy, use, and exchange their empty tanks for prefilled replacements. For customers who want eco-friendly products, the Little Kamper is zero-waste. For retailers who want repeat customers, the exchange model brings customers back for more.
"This is an exciting step for us," said Little Kamper's Josh Simpson, "Because we know that eco-friendly consumers want a better mousetrap and most retailers already understand the simplicity of tank exchange. Our Little Kamper fits in that space."
The propane tank collection bins in the campgrounds at Yosemite National Park don't exactly scream "hazardous waste" to the people who camp in the park. But in fact, many people who use 1lb tanks discard them with liquid propane still in the tanks and that makes them hazardous waste.
"People don't realize how frequently these tanks are thrown away with liquid propane still inside," said Doug Kobold, Executive Director of the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC). CPSC works with the State of California's Department of Resource Recovery and Recycling (Cal Recycle) to reduce the volume of problem products flowing into California's waste stream. "The communities that end up with
these tanks in their waste stream don't have a specified funding source to cover the cost of their proper recycling," said Kobold. The end result is local taxpayers and ratepayers getting stuck with the bill.
Little Kamper tank exchange is available in Yosemite National Park's retail stores and a growing number of independent retail outlets in California. The company is expanding distribution and has inventory ready to supply new stores for the 2021 recreation season.