Viridor launches gas canister awareness campaign

Viridor has today (24 November) launched a campaign across four south London boroughs to raise awareness of the dangers caused by nitrous oxide canisters.

The waste management company’s campaign, titled ‘Leave it Out’, pointed to the impact the canisters have on local waste management.

The campaign, which features ‘Noxie’, the naughty nitrous oxide canister, aims to help educate south London residents about the importance of disposing of these canisters in a safe and sustainable way.

The campaign is supported by the four South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) boroughs – Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton – and will roll out across parks, at tram stations, in newspapers and online “in the coming months”.

The firm highlighted that the recent months have seen thousands of so called ‘creamer canisters’ arrive at Viridor’s Beddington energy from waste (EfW) plant mixed in with household waste.

A creamer canister is a steel cylinder or cartridge filled with nitrous oxide and used as a whipping agent in a whipped cream dispenser.

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It warned that even though many are intercepted, any canisters going through the waste treatment process can explode, causing damage and risk to staff (see story).

Laughing gas

Viridor explained that, while originally intended for use in the catering industry, nitrous dioxide is increasingly used for recreational purposes, with the gas inhaled from a balloon and stored in canisters.

When these canisters are processed, they can explode causing damage

  • Dave O’Callaghan, plant manager for Viridor at Beddington

The company outlined that these tended to be the size of a bullet and could pass through the EfW facility without incident, but recent months have seen much larger canisters come through. Approximately the size of a two-litre water bottle, they are “causing operational challenges for the plant”, Viridor added.

As a result, Viridor is urging residents and commercial users of these to not place them in their bins but to check the label and recycle or dispose of them responsibly.

Dave O’Callaghan, plant manager for Viridor at Beddington, said: “Whilst the plant is designed to safely deal with a wide range of non-recyclable waste, when these canisters are processed, they can explode causing damage.

“We work around the clock to safely treat the non-recyclable waste from the SLWP and have launched this campaign to raise awareness that these canisters are not designed to be processed by an EfW plant.” He encouraged recycling and responsible disposal “to keep the team at the Beddington EfW safe”.

South London

Cllr Natasha Irons, chair of the SLWP joint committee, reiterated that the canisters have a potential to damage waste treatment plants and pose a risk to those collecting and treating waste.

Cllr Irons noted: “We are lobbying central government for a ban on consumer sales of nitrous oxide, and we are working hard to make it easier for people with these canisters to recycle them.”

According to Ellen Daniels, chief executive of the British Compressed Gas Association, nitrous oxide has become the second most used substance among 16 to 24-year-olds.

“We must come together to ensure that these canisters are not accessible to those in our communities that want to use this substance recreationally,” Ms Daniels added. “We are keen to work with partners, including those in the waste management sector, to raise awareness of the issue and work towards an effective solution.”

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