If you’ve already switched from bottled water to filtered water, well done! The United States, where most of our readers live, is already the second-largest generator of plastic waste.
You might wonder what to do with spent filters. While filters don’t cause as much waste as plastic bottles, it’d be nice if there was an obvious use for them. Right?
In this article, I’ll share a few strategies you can use to recycle your used water filters. We’ll also talk through a few “obvious” solutions that aren’t as healthy as they might seem.
If you use a Brita water filter, you’re in luck. The company started a recycling program (called TerraCycle) in 1992, and it’s still kicking.
The service is quite simple. You have to create an account to participate, and they’ll provide you with a prepaid shipping label to send in your spent filters. Every return will earn you points, which you can redeem in the form of a charitable donation.
TerraCycle will accept some other manufacturers’ filters for recycling.
Other Online Programs
If TerraCycle isn’t a good fit for your situation, contact the manufacturer of your water filter through the chat or email function on their website. Ask if they have an in-house recycling program or recommendation.
Although there were previously several online recycling programs (like TerraCycle), many of them have shut down. For example, Preserve is no longer accepting water filters for recycling. Neither can you get any recycling help from Recycle Water Filters.
Depending on where you live, there may also be local options for recycling water filters. Finding a local outlet isn’t exactly rocket science, but there are a few steps involved:
- Locate the resin stamp on the water filter to spot the kind of plastic they have used.
- Look for a symbol with three arrows pointing in a triangular pattern with a number written inside it. The number shows the type of plastic used.
- Go to Google, and search for “recycling facility near me”
- Call your local recycling center. Ask if they accept the specific type of plastic for recycling. They may even tell you to drop off the plastic at their facility or somewhere else.
- If you don’t know where to call, call 1(800)CLEANUP and find out.
- If they do recycle the type of plastic from your filter, ask them how you should prepare a water filter for recycling.
- Or, check out Earth911.
- Click on Where to Recycle.
- Type “water filters” in the Search bar, add your Zip Code, and hit the Search button.
- As a last resort, contact an EPA-approved hazardous waste collection facility.
- When nothing is working, dispose of the used water filter in the regular trash after putting it in a plastic bag.
How to Prepare Water Filters for Recycling
The unfortunate reality is that, in most cases, you’ll need to put some elbow grease into preparing your filter for recycling. Here are the common steps:
Step 1: Dry Out The Filter
Always make sure you have washed the surface of, and then dried out, your water filter first. Don’t try to take the unit apart yet. Some of the contaminants trapped in the water filter may harm you when in contact.
Leave the water filter in an airy space to dry naturally. It can take up to 3 days for the water filter to dry out.
It’s not easy to reach the corners of the water filter unit. Neither is it safe. To be sure that it’s thoroughly dry, wait until 6 days.
Step 2: Wipe the Surface
Using a clean, dry cloth, wipe the surface of the water filter unit. Take care not to use a damp cloth, as the water filter should be totally dry.
Remove stubborn dirt with a dry toothbrush or scrub.
Step 3: Place It In A Plastic Bag
Put the dry water filter in a plastic grocery bag. Seal the mouth of the bag after rolling the excess part over the unit and tying the handles together. This helps to keep the unit from moving. You don’t want the water filter to get damaged or the trapped contaminants to escape.
If you have more filters, place each of them separately in smaller plastic bags. Why? So that if one of them cracks, the contaminants won’t damage the other filters. Then place them in a larger plastic bag.
How do you dispose of water filter waste?
If you can’t find any help on recycling from the water filter manufacturer or your local recycling program, it’s better to trash the water filter waste.
Don’t attempt to cut through the water filter unit and separate the elements. That’s because it’s dangerous if you or the environment come in contact with the contaminants trapped in the water filter.
Can I put Brita filters in recycling?
Yes, you can use TerraCycle to put Brita filters in recycling. Or, you can contact your nearest recycling center.
Can all Drop water filters be recycled?
No. All parts of Drop water filters cannot be recycled.