If you are using a water filter to get access to cleaner drinking water in your home you have to replace the filter cartridge every once in a while – how often depends on the individual model.
Now despite the fact that home water filtration is much more environmentally-friendly than buying dozens of plastic bottles every week, the used cartridges still add to the landfill. What you can do to counter this is recycle. How? You are about to find out!
We appreciate the fact that you are concerned about the environment and want to dispose of your old water filters properly. Unfortunately, most manufacturers don’t provide a recycling program at this point.
Still, this doesn’t mean that your only option is to throw them in the trash. What you can also do is contact your local recycling center. They may accept the cartridges or give you further information on what you can do with them:
On a side note: Some people say that cutting open your used cartridges to dump out the filtering media before throwing the plastic in the recycle bin is fine. Others warn against it since the media likely holds high amounts of contaminants removed from your tap or well water. Cutting open a filter cartridge may expose you to these substances. Personally, we don’t consider this to be an issue – you can wear gloves if you want – but this is up to you to decide (as long as you don’t dump anything in your garden which will release all the contaminants back into the environment.
Companies that do offer a recycling program:
The Gimme 5 recycling program that allows you to drop off any #5 polypropylene plastic at your local Whole Foods Market does NOT accept water filters!
There are some websites out there claiming that they specialize in filter recycling. However, it turns out that this is often a scam as these companies charge a fee for their “service” on top of the costs for shipping. What’s more, once you have submitted your information, it’s likely that you will get bombarded with sales leads in future.
Bottom line: Working with a legitimate recycling program sponsored by your filter manufacturer is usually the way to go and ensures that all materials are being recycled properly.
Some people like to reuse their water filters. They will clean the cartridge – even use bleach – and refill the filter media if needed. We have covered this topic in our post here.
Just so you know, even the most thorough cleaning procedure does not guarantee that your refurbished filter will perform like it was brand-new, let alone be 100% free from contaminant leftovers and germs.
If it’s finally time for you to order a new home water filter, here are our favorite systems.
Both Brita and PUR have teamed up with TerraCycle, a recycling and upcycling company that has committed to repurposing “non-recyclable” products into affordable innovative products, such as pouches, pencils and potting supplies (for the whole range of products click here).
If you are a Brita customer, you can sign up to the free Brita Rewards program. When logged in simply fill out the form to get a free shipping label. Now you can recycle pitchers, dispensers, bottles, faucet units and any packaging in 3 easy steps:
Are you a Canadian resident? Then you first have to create a TerraCycle account at terracycle.ca and join the Brita Recycling program there. You can download a pre-paid shipping label from your TerraCycle account.
In case you are a PUR customer, you have to join the PUR recycling program.
Then you can start collecting PUR pitchers, dispensers, faucet filtration systems, filters and packaging film. Once you have a full box, send it using the free shipping label available at the TerraCycle website. Again, you have to remember to properly dry everything before wrapping it in a plastic bag or garbage liner.
Did we mention that for each shipment you send in you have the opportunity to earn points that you can donate to an organization of your choice or a TerraCycle product bundle? That’s so cool!
Want to learn more about TerraCycle?
ZeroWater provides a recycling form that you can complete and return with your filters to:
ZeroWater Filter Recycling
c/o Delta Warehouse
1600 Delta Drive
El Paso, TX 79901
The processing takes up to a couple of weeks. Then you receive a $10 coupon to be redeemed at zerowater.com for every two filters that you return. The coupon is meant to help off-set shipping expenses.
Bad news: MAVEA is no longer accepting filters for recycling.
As far as we can tell, GE has stopped their refrigerator filter recycling program as well. Although several third-party sources talk about it online, we couldn’t find any information that confirm that the program is still active.
If your refrigerator uses a water filter it, too, has to be replaced on a regular basis to guarantee the highest water quality and prevent bacteria from growing inside the cartridge.
Back in 2014, Whirlpool launched their Refresh & Recycle refrigerator water filter recycling program. It offered people to recycle any brand fridge water filter for little money. The bad news is that the program has ended.
What can you do instead? Follow the same process to recycle any other type of water filter:
The ecological footprint of bottled water – recycled or not – is many times larger than that of filtered water. So even if your filter manufacturer does not have a recycling program, you are doing the environment a huge favor. And if you haven’t purchased a filter system just yet or are planning to replace your old one, consider choosing a brand that makes recycling a priority.
Gene has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves to read books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.