Del Norte is taking part in a program designed to give campers and others using 1-pound propane canisters a more environmentally-friendly option.

At the request of the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority, Hiouchi Hamlet is participating in the Refuel Your Fun program. Lucky 7 Casino’s Fuel Mart also wants to participate in the program, said Kyra Seymour, the authority’s facilities and programs coordinator.

Hiouchi Hamlet began selling and refilling reusable propane canisters earlier this month, according to owner Mike Finley.

The object of the program is to curtail the number of disposable 1-pound propane canisters, which are often left behind at local campgrounds and are hazardous, according to Seymour.

“The problem with disposing of the disposable containers is you have to wait for hazardous waste disposal day,” she said. “They can explode and hurt people, hurt the waste workers. Just the fumes alone can cause them to blow up and cause fires.”

Seymour said the Solid Waste Management Authority had been working to bring the Refuel Your Fun program to Del Norte for more than two years. She said she herself approached local hay and feed businesses and other places that sell propane, but so far only Hiouchi Hamlet owner Mike Finley agreed to participate.

Seymour noted that before Del Norte retailers began participating, the nearest locations people could purchase a reusable propane canister were Medford, Redding and Santa Rosa.

The Refuel Your Fun campaign was developed by the California Product Stewardship Council in partner with local government in 2015, according to a Solid Waste Authority press release. Until recently all one-pound propane containers were designed to be used only once with 80 percent of the purchase price paying for the canister itself, according to the press release.

According to Seymour, anyone who brings an empty reusable propane container to Finley will be able to swap it for a full reusable container. The customer will just pay for the cost of the propane, she said. Seymour noted that the reusable containers are more expensive than the disposable ones, but “they do pay for themselves within five uses.”

“You’re holding onto that container until you next need to fill it,” she said, “and that doesn’t have to be in this county, state or anything else.”

The Solid Waste Management Authority is encouraging other retailers to participate in the Refuel Your Fun program, Seymour said. Many were reluctant to participate because of they thought it would be labor intensive, she said.

“Every time someone comes in with a little tiny canister, they’d have to go and fill it and it seemed to them not worth it,” Seymour said. “What I did for Hiouchi Hamlet, I bought them 12 containers and the adapter so they can do swap outs and as they start running out, someone could refill the 12 (containers).”

Seymour said she has to order parts for Fuel Mart to participate in the Refuel Your Fun program. It could be two weeks to a month to get them going, she said last week.

Finley said so far there hasn’t been a demand for reusable propane containers. He said once a business owner gets started on the program, it doesn’t require a lot of energy and provides a needed service by decreasing the number of disposable containers.

“Those cans you can’t do anything with,” he said. “They’re just basically little bombs; (people) throw them in the garbage.”

For more information about the Refuel Your Fun program, call Seymour at 707-465-1100.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com .

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