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Gas Can Replacement

What is Voluntary Gas Can Replacement?

Portable gas cans, like those used to fuel lawnmowers, account for a significant amount of smog- forming emissions escaping into the air every day.

According to calculations from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, emissions from gas cans contribute approximately 22.4 tons of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) per day in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Communities or companies can address this issue by conducting programs that allow citizens to trade in old gas cans and in return receive a rebate, discount or even free environmentally friendly cans.

What benefits and costs does this strategy provide?

Improve regional air quality.
Emissions from gas cans occur from evaporation and due to spillage from overfilling of power equipment fuel tanks. In transporting and storing cans, emissions are also released through secondary vent holes and permeation.

The California Air Resources Board estimated that 87 tons of smog forming hydrocarbons were released in their state every day from gas cans, which is equivalent to the emissions of 1 million average cars. By using newer gas cans with features such as shut off values, harmful gasoline fumes can be reduced by 75%.

Improve indoor air quality and safety.
Storing traditional gas cans may pose a threat to the health of those in the home. When old cans are stored in a garage or in the basement, the toxic fumes are emitted into the air and can negatively impact inhabitants with respiratory ailments.

Cost effectiveness.
An environmentally friendly gas can typically cost $6- $11 more than a standard gas can. Assuming a five-year useful life, this amounts to an additional $1.20 to $2.20 per year over the life of the gas can.

Have any communities implemented such a program?

The City of Chicago Department of Environment offered households the opportunity to turn in their old gas cans and replace them with new environmentally friendly cans. A Gas Can Trade-In event was held in conjunction with the City's Household Hazardous Waste Collection and Lawnmower Buy Back program. In this event, the City exchanged 170 old gasoline cans for free environmentally friendly gasoline cans for an approximate reduction of .59 tons VOC/year.

The California Air Resources Board enacted a gas can regulation on January 1, 2001. This regulation states that effective January 1, 2001 California manufacturers must produce gas cans that have an automatic shut off feature, automatic closure, eliminate secondary ventilation holes, and emit no more than 0.4 grams of reactive organic gases from permeation through a container's wall. After January 1, 2002 consumers will no longer be able to purchase gas cans within the state that do not comply with these standards.

Where can I obtain environmentally friendly gas cans?
Manufacturers of environmentally friendly gas cans include:

  • Blitz USA
    Carries CARB compliant "Spill Proof" cans and their "Sure-Pour" cans that do not meet the permeation standard but achieve 94% of the emission reductions of the CARB compliant cans. 1-800-331-3795

  • Briggs and Stratton
    Carries a "Smartfill" can that meets all but the permeation standard. They will be coming out with a "Spill Proof Spout" can in the fall 2001 which will be CARB compliant. The "Smartfill Hotline", can be used to find out which stores carry "Smartfill" cans or to place orders. 1-800-236-2426.

  • Wedco
    There are two product lines available using the spill proof system. One is CARB compliant and the other is not. Low emitting CARB containers are currently mainly available in California, but they should be available at Ace Hardware and Napa Auto Part stores by the end of 2001. To place orders, call their customer service number: 1-888-449-3326.
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