How to Recycle Water Filters
Can you recycle water filter cartridges?
We get asked this question a lot. Many people are concerned about switching from bottled water to filtered water, because plastic bottles are more easily recycled. Most filter manufacturers do not have recycling programs in place, leaving consumers with no choice but to dispose of their used products in the trash. Despite this, the environmental and economical footprint of bottled water (even when it is recycled) is still much larger than that of filtered water. (Compare the three or four water filters that get thrown away by one household each year, to the millions of plastic bottles that end up in our landfills, and you can see the difference.) If you are concerned about recycling your water filters, we recommend buying products made by companies that have recycling programs in place. If this is not possible, contact the manufacturer of your filter and request that they initiate a water filter recycling program. You may also want to contact your local recycling center. If your filter is made with #5 plastic, your local center may accept the cartridge for recycling.
The following Filters Fast vendors currently have water filter recycling programs in place:
Brita has teamed up with Preserve, a maker of 100 percent recycled household goods. The #5 plastic from each Brita filter cartridge is used to manufacture kitchenware and personal care products like toothbrushes and razors. The filter ingredients - activated carbon and ion exchange resin - are either regenerated for alternative use or converted into energy. Simply dry your expired filters by shaking off the excess water and setting them in a dry place for three days. Wrap the filters in a plastic grocery bag and drop it off or mail it to a participating Preserve Gimme 5 recycling location. Preserve Gimme 5 bins may be found at certain Whole Foods Market stores. Both the bag and the water filter cartridge will be recycled.
"Sip. Save. Recycle." That's Everpure's motto. Everpure filter cartridges are made with high grade aluminum and plastics, and are therefore easily recycled. The company has partnered with Waste Management to ensure that its cartridges are recycled to become new, sustainable products. Simply contact Everpure to find a drop-off location near you and take your expired cartridges to a participating recycling center. If there are no drop-off locations nearby, you can mail your cartridges instead.
The filter used in the Filtrete Water Station is made with the same #2 plastic as a milk jug, and is easily recycled. Simply dispose of the filter media in the trash and recycle the plastic parts with the rest of your #2 plastics. Watch this video, for more information.
Mavea pays the shipping cost for you to recycle your Mavea filter cartridge. The company recommends saving six filter cartridges for each shipment, in order to minimize the carbon footprint of shipping.Obtain a Mavea paid shipping label by filling out the form on their website; package your filters in a parcel weighing two pounds or less and drop off the package at your nearest UPS location. Every part of each Mavea filter is broken down, cleaned and reused.
Pur does not have a recycling program in place at this time; however, it has been rumored by several sources that they are working on implementing one in the near future. Please check back periodically for updates.
Though typically not recycled, reverse osmosis filters are considered to be a more environmentally-friendly solution, because the filter housing is attached to the system and is never thrown away. The cartridges contain significantly less plastic than pitcher filter or faucet filter cartridges, so less plastic ends up being thrown in the trash.
Beware of recycling scams! Some websites that claim to specialize in filter recycling will charge you an extra fee (above what you'd pay for shipping costs) to recycle your cartridges. This is often a method to obtain your information for future sales leads. Going through a legitimate filter recycling program initiated by your particular manufacturer is the safest and best way to ensure that the materials are being properly recycled.
Do not attempt to do-it-yourself! You may have heard that cutting open your cartridge, dumping out the filter media and throwing the plastic in your recycling bin is a safe way to recycle filters from manufacturers that don't have recycling programs in place. However, the stuff inside the plastic traps and holds contaminants. Cutting them open may expose you, your loved ones, and the environment to the toxins that you wanted to rid from your water in the first place. If no recycling alternative exists, you are better off throwing away the filter cartridge, completely intact.
Offset the carbon footprint of shipping by saving at least six used water filters before sending them off to be recycled at once.