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National, state parks adopt tank exchange program

Yosemite National Park and other campground sites across the U.S. are adopting the Little Kamper tank exchange program this year in an effort to reduce tank waste and costs.


Using a DOT-certified refillable 1-pound tank, the Little Kamper tank exchange program puts propane tanks on participating retailer shelves and allows customers to buy, use and exchange their empty tanks for prefilled replacements.


Aramark in Yosemite National Park was the first to adopt Little Kamper when it tested the program in 2020, and Aramark plans to expand its program in 2022 to reduce waste at Lake Powell in Canyonlands National Park and Crater Lake National Park, the company says.

Little Kamper conducted a 2021 audit of the Yosemite fuel cylinder waste stream. Volunteers gathered on a series of Saturday mornings from February 2021 to January 2022 to sort each propane, butane and isobutane cylinder that had been left in the national park by tank type and manufacturer. According to Little Kamper, the audit results indicate that its tanks are rarely discarded in Yosemite.

(Photo by Josh Simpson)

“People who purchase a Little Kamper tank rarely throw them away because the purchase price discourages that choice,” says Little Kamper’s Josh Simpson. “Over 1,200 Little Kampers were sold in Yosemite National Park in 2021, and only 22 of them were recovered in the waste stream audit. That’s a factual data point, and it clearly shows the waste-reduction benefits of our exchange program.”


Several other campground stores plan to offer an alternative to disposable tanks through Little Kamper’s tank exchange program. For instance, global hospitality company Delaware North plans to bring the program into its retail operations at the Grand Canyon, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, and possibly Shenandoah National Park, according to Little Kamper.


“Delaware North looks forward to offering Little Kamper’s reusable propane canister at our retail shops in several parks this season,” says Deb Friedel, director of sustainability for Delaware North. “We know that national park visitors will appreciate the opportunity to reduce waste in the parks by using a convenient and effective product that is also sustainable.”





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