If a fire extinguisher is no longer needed, irreparable or simply outdated, it must be disposed of properly.
Regardless of the extinguishing agent used, fire extinguishers, and also extinguishing agents, are basically hazardous waste (formerly: waste requiring monitoring). This means that fire extinguishers must not be disposed of in the residual waste bin.
Furthermore, we strongly advise against opening fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers are sometimes under high pressure (usually 15 bar, carbon dioxide extinguishers up to 250 bar). Improper handling can lead to serious accidents.
The return of old fire extinguishers is not uniformly regulated, which unfortunately sometimes makes it difficult for the consumer to dispose of the old extinguisher. The reason for this is not the substances they contain, but the fact that fire extinguishers can also be under high pressure and further recycling is not without risk.
Recycling centres, hazardous waste collection points and regional disposal companies
Some recycling centres and waste disposal companies accept fire extinguishers in household quantities (2-3 pieces per delivery) for disposal. But even in large cities, this service is not offered uniformly. It is best to call in advance to find out whether it is possible to hand in your fire extinguisher.
Some fire brigades also offer the disposal of fire extinguishers. Please call them in advance for more information!
Some companies offer the disposal of fire extinguishers. You buy the corresponding service via an online shop and then send the extinguisher to the company.
But be careful! With this option, which is probably also the most expensive by far, you are liable for proper securing and packaging of the fire extinguisher. In any case, it must be ensured that the fire extinguisher cannot be triggered during transport. For this purpose, the trigger fittings must be secured well with cardboard and adhesive tape. Special care should be taken with very old and rusty fire extinguishers - here you should in any case refrain from such offers. If you do not have the confidence to pack the extinguishers securely, it is better not to accept the offer.
Fire protection companies
Fire protection companies that offer the maintenance and sale of fire extinguishers also take back old extinguishers. Usually, the old extinguishers cannot be taken back free of charge, but many specialist retailers charge for disposal if you also buy a new fire extinguisher there.
What happens to the old extinguisher
As a rule, fire extinguishers are collected by the collection points and then handed over in larger quantities to specialised disposal companies.
Here, the fire extinguisher is dismantled into its individual parts professionally and under the highest safety precautions. The resulting materials can be recycled up to 100%. Any ABC extinguishing powder produced is treated accordingly and processed into an approved NPK fertiliser. Steel, brass and other metals are excellently suited for recycling. High-quality plastics can also be recycled. Components that cannot be reprocessed are sent for professional disposal.
The statements made describe the situation in Germany. Different regulations may apply in other countries.