Expired fire extinguishers cannot be put in garbage or recycling carts.

Depending on the type of fire extinguisher, most portable fire extinguishers contain powdered CO2 and other chemicals. Here are the best disposal options:

  1. Some local fire departments accept fire extinguishers. Call your local firehouse to get details.
  2. If your local fire department is not accepting drop-offs, you can take the extinguisher to a hazardous waste disposal facility. This option is only for residents of Illinois – not businesses, schools, or institutions.

Chicago Household Chemicals & Computer Recycling Facility
1150 N North Branch St
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 744-3060

Naperville Household Hazardous Waste Facility
156 Fort Hill Dr
Naperville, IL 60540
(630) 420-6095

3. Contact a company that sells and manages fire extinguishers for a drop-off option. Call for details.

Henrichsen's Fire & Safety Equipment Co.
563 North Wolf Road
Wheeling, Illinois 60090
(847) 459-7877

U.S. Fire & Safety Equipment Company
2412 Millennium Dr
Elgin, IL 60124
(773) 763-4422

 propane tank                       Helium

Propane Tanks

Propane tanks, also called propane cylinders, are commonly used to fuel stoves, grills, and water heaters. Propane tanks are made of recyclable steel and copper. But due to the gas and pressure inside, these tanks cannot be recycled with your other curbside recycling or thrown in the garbage. If any gas is left in the tank, it could cause a fire or explosion at the landfill. You should not open a tank to let the rest of the gas leak out because it’s highly flammable. These pressurized containers are not welcomed in the trash because they create a potential hazard of explosions or fires in compactor trucks – and definitely not recyclable in the curbside cart.

So, what are your options?

  • Get your tank refilled at the point of purchase.

  • If the tank is no longer needed, take it back where you got it.

  • Many Walgreens, Walmart, and Ace Hardware locations offer trade-in or disposal/recycling programs.

  • Take smaller propane tanks to a household hazardous waste facility – visit websites for details.

Chicago HHW
1150 N. North Branch Street
Tues: 7 am to noon
Thurs: 2 pm to 7 pm
First Sat. of each month: 8am to 3 pm

Naperville HHW
156 Fort Hill Drive
Sat: 9 am to 2 pm
Sun: 9 am to 2 pm

  • Contact a local propane specialized recycler, such as AmeriGas.

522 South Vermont St
Palatine, IL 60067
(847) 359-6450

For a large, bulk propane tank at a home or business, contact a licensed propane company, such as your propane supplier for removal. They’ll be able to safely purge any remaining propane from the tank. They’ll also have the specialized tools to remove the tank safely.

Helium Tanks

Helium tanks can be dangerous if not properly prepared for recycling. Helium tanks, much like propane tanks or fire extinguishers, contain pressurized gas that can explode if handled incorrectly. This is unlikely to happen around your house, but if a full helium tank goes into the back of a compactor truck it can blow up, hurting or even killing sanitation workers.

Steps to Take:

  • Ask yourself, “Are balloons really necessary for my gathering?” Balloons, especially helium, can float long distances and pose a threat to animals and eco systems if released into the outdoors.

  • Buy prefilled balloons at the store.

  • Many party stores rent helium tanks that you can return when you are finished.

  • You can also purchase a large empty tank and have it filled at a party store or industry supply company when needed.

  • Balloon Time has instructions and a video that takes you step by step through the process of depressurizing helium tanks. The key is to make sure the tank is completely empty, remove the valve, then punch a hole in the tank so it is safe for recycling.

Balloon Time Instructions

Balloon Time Video

Graphics and Instructions

The metal that makes up your old helium tank is very easy for a metal recycler to turn into something else. There is no reason to throw this valuable resource in the trash when it can have a second life as a useful product. Check with a HHW facility or find a local metal scrap yard for a recycling option.

There are two basic types of house paints, latex and oil.  Latex paint is water based that does not contain hazardous chemicals and can be dried out and thrown away in the garbage cart – with lid off so the hauler knows the paint is completely dried.  There are also programs that charge a fee to recycle latex paint - listed in SWANCC’s Reuse and Recycling Directory.

Oil-based paint contains harmful chemicals and needs to be taken to an Illinois Household Hazardous Waste Facility (HHW)

About White Goods
White Goods refers to major appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, air conditioners, and washing machines. Refrigerators and freezers contain refrigerants, oils, and other compounds that, by federal law, must be removed and recovered. Some recycling programs also capture the foam insulation inside the refrigerator doors for added environmental benefits. The steel, other metals, and selected parts can then be recycled. The average refrigerator aged 10 years or older contains more than 120 pounds of recyclable steel!
Five Ways to Recycle White Goods
1. Recycle through an Appliance Retailer
Look for retailers that partner with EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) Program. RAD is a voluntary partnership program to help protect the ozone layer and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by recovering ozone-depleting chemicals from old refrigerators, freezers, window air conditioners, and dehumidifiers. Using best practices, RAD partners ensure that: refrigerant is recovered and reclaimed or destroyed; foam is recovered and destroyed, or the blowing agent is recovered and reclaimed; metals, plastic, and glass are recycled; and PCBs, mercury, and used oil are recovered and properly disposed.
Many appliance retailers will pick up and recycle your old refridgerator or freezer when you purchase a new one. Ask your retailer for assurance that the old unit will be properly recycled and not re-sold as an inefficient, second-hand unit. Some retailers or manufacturers also offer cash rebates when you buy a new refridgerator.
Appliances left curbside might be picked up by peddlers who may improperly vent refrigerant or otherwise dispose of the appliance in an unsafe manner.
2. Check with Your State Energy Office or Local Electric Utility
Local utilities and energy-efficiency organizations support a growing number of refrigerator and freezer recycling programs. Some programs offer cash to recycle your old refridgerator; others offer utility bill credits. ComEd
3. Ask about Municipal Pick-Up of Appliances
Your community’s waste management service provider may offer heavy trash pick-up and recycling programs for appliances as part of your Village or City contract. Check out details at your respective municipal’s website or call for details.
4. Drop-off Programs
White goods can be dropped off at SWANCC’s Transfer Station at 3 Providence Way in Des Plaines during business hours for a fee of $25 per item or taken to area recyclers. For details, visit SWANCC’s Reuse and Recycling Directory.
5. Local Scrap Metal Recyclers
Thousands of local scrap metal recyclers can recycle old refridgerators and freezers. Ask your scrap metal recycler for assurance that your old unit will be properly recycled. Visit SWANCC’s Reuse and Recycling Directory for locations.
Small Household Appliances 
Products such as toasters, blenders, coffee makers, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, lamps, etc. can be thrown away in the garbage if they cannot be donated for reuse or recycled through other programs. Additionally, any small item that contains a high percentage of metal, such as a microwave, can be left out on the curb or alley next to the garbage cart for a “scrapper” to pick up and take to a metal recycler. Be mindful of local ordinances.
Be sure to visit SWANCC’s Recycling FAQs for information about managing other household materials.

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