Can Fire Extinguishers Be Recycled in the UK?

Can Fire Extinguishers Be Recycled in the UK?

One question has become so popular that we not only keep hearing it, but it’s been trending on Google, prompting a number of searches for ‘can fire extinguishers be recycled UK. So, can fire extinguishers be recycled in the UK?

The quick answer is that yes, indeed, they can. An old fire extinguisher may sometimes be refilled or simply emptied completely and recycled for scrap metal.

Today we’re going to talk about this and give you some specific information regarding the various types of extinguishers that might be lying around in the garage or in the basement. With a few steps, you can ready them for pickup or delivery to a proper facility, as this is going to be the best and safest option, and we’ll be providing these for each type which we discuss.

We should state now that simply placing your old extinguishers in the bin is dangerous. If pressurized contents are still present in the extinguisher then someone could get hurt and as these old extinguishers are classified as hazardous waste materials the legal repercussions can be quite formidable.

Let’s discuss the types of common extinguishers and how they might be safely and properly recycled.

Common foam and powder extinguishers

The most common form of extinguisher which you are likely to find these days, foam and powder extinguishers are best dealt with by taking them directly to your local recycling center. We cannot recommend emptying their contents at home for a few very practical reasons:

  • Foam extinguishers employ flame-retardant chemicals which must not enter groundwater or rainwater drains. It is simply not practical or very easy to dispose of this at home and improper disposal can contaminate a water supply and earn you a visit from the authorities in the bargain.
  • Powder extinguishers may be emptied at home but the process is a bit messy. You would need to tip it on its head and discharge its contents through the dip tube into a fabric bag. This allows the air to pass as the powder collects in the bag and you can dispose of the powder-bag safely in your bin.
Can Fire Extinguishers Be Recycled in the UK?

Water and CO2 fire extinguishers

Water extinguishers are the simplest to empty out, as they are not toxic and may be discharged safely into any open drain. CO2 extinguishers, on the other hand, should simply be dispersed in an open-aired, well ventilated space and ONLY if they are still fitted with their frost-free horn. Do not attempt a discharge without this horn!

This is because the frost-free horn helps to manage the high pressure of the CO2 discharge and without it, the recoil produced by discharging the extinguisher is substantial enough to break bones. If you don’t have the horn then do not attempt to empty the extinguisher for recycling without professional assistance.

Halon fire extinguishers

Although they were officially banned in 2003, you will occasionally find an old Halon fire extinguisher and these are to be taken to a recycling center immediately. While the older Halons will typically have a British Racing Green as their color code, dark bottle green, gold, and yellow Halon extinguishers do exist as well.

When in doubt, consider safety first and simply bring the extinguisher to your local recycling center so that it may be properly and safely dealt with.

One final step before collection

We do recommend that you allow any drained extinguishers to stand for a few days before you deliver them or have them collected by your local recycling center.  This will allow you to determine quite easily that all of the contents have been emptied and that the canister is properly depressurized. Your extinguishers are now ready to be recycled for their scrap metal and you may consider this a job well done!

Just remember to replace it with new extinguishers where needed because we all know what will happen if you don’t. Be well, be safe, and thank you very much for recycling!