The Ultimate Guide To Recycling Used Water Filters

how to recycle water filters

If you’re using a water filter to access clean drinking water in your house, you need to replace the filter cartridge every once in a while — how often depends upon the individual model.

Despite that house water filtration is considerably more environmentally-friendly than purchasing dozens of plastic bottles each week, the used cartridges still increase landfills. Everything you can do to counter this is to recycle. How? You’re about to learn!

What to Do With Old Water Filters?

Proper Disposal -- Where and How to Recycle Water Filters

We appreciate that you’re concerned about the environment and would like to eliminate your old water filters correctly. Unfortunately, most manufacturers do not provide a recycling program now.

However, this doesn’t indicate that your only alternative is to throw them in the garbage. What you could also do is contact your local recycling center. They may take the cartridges or give you additional information on what you can do with them:

  1. Get in touch with your filter manufacturer’s customer support to discover if they provide a recycling program.
  2. If the answer is”yes,” follow their directions. Normally, the filter must dry for a few days first. Then you can cover it in plastic and send it in an appropriate box. Some companies will even send you a pre-stamped envelope so you can mail your filters at no cost.
  3. If the replies are “no,” ask which sort of plastic was used for the filter casing (#1, #2, #3, #4 or #5). You can even check the shell yourself. It will contain a number enveloped by three arrows printed on it.
  4. Contact your regional recycler to learn which plastic kind (s) they take.
  5. Recycle if possible. Otherwise, throw in the garbage.

On a side note: Some folks say that cutting open your used cartridges to discard the filtering media before putting the plastic in the recycle bin is okay. Others warn against it because the media probably holds high levels of contaminants removed from your well water or tap. Cutting open a filter cartridge may present you with those substances. We do not take this to be a problem — you can wear gloves if you’d like — but that is your choice to decide (as long as you do not dump anything in your garden that will release all of the contaminants back to the environment.

Reuse

Some people prefer to reuse their water filters. They’ll clean the cartridge — even apply bleach — and refill the filter media if necessary. 

Just so you know, even the most thorough cleaning process doesn’t ensure that your refurbished filter will perform as though it was fresh, let alone be 100% free of contaminant germs and leftovers.

Here are our favorite systems if it’s the final time for you to purchase a new house water filter.

Brita & PUR

recycle britta filters
water filter recycling

Both Brita And PUR have collaborated up with TerraCycle, a recycling and upcycling company dedicated to renewing “non-recyclable” products into affordable, innovative products pouches, pens, and potting supplies 

If you’re a Brita client, you can sign up for the free Brita Rewards program. When logging in, simply complete the form to have a free shipping label. Now you can recycle dispensers, pitchers, bottles, faucet components, and any packing in 3 simple steps:

  1. Let your Brita products to dry out for three days.
  2. Collect at least 5 pounds to recycle. Put everything in a garbage liner or garbage bag and pack it in a box.
  3. Take Print out your shipping label and mail the box.

Are you a Canadian resident? Next, you first must make a TerraCycle account at terracycle.ca and join the Brita Recycling program there. You may download a prepaid shipping label from the TerraCycle account.

In case you are a PUR client, you need to join the PUR recycling program.

Then you can start collecting PUR dispensers, pitchers, faucet filtration systems, filters, and packaging film. As soon as you have a full box, ship it with the free shipping label at the TerraCycle site. Again, you need to remember to properly dry everything before covering it in a garbage liner or plastic bag.

Did we mention that for every shipment you send in, you have the chance to earn points that you can contribute to an organization of your choice or a TerraCycle product package? That is so cool!

ZeroWater

ZeroWater provides a recycling form which you may complete and return together with your filters to:

ZeroWater Filter Recycling

c/o Delta Warehouse

1600 Delta Drive

El Paso, TX 79901

Processing takes up to a few weeks. You get a $10 voucher to be reclaimed at zerowater.com for every two filters your return. The coupon is supposed to help offset shipping costs.

Maven

Bad news: MAVEA has stopped accepting filters for repurposing.

GE Home Appliances

As far as we can say, GE has ceased their fridge filter recycling program also. Although several third-party resources speak about it on the internet, we could not find any info that confirms the program remains active.

Repurposing Refrigerator Water Filters

If your refrigerator uses a water filter, it also needs to be replaced regularly to ensure the highest water quality and keep bacteria from growing in the cartridge.

Back in 2014, Whirlpool launched its Refresh & Recycle fridge water filter recycling program. It provided people to recycle any brand refrigerator water filter for small money. The bad thing is that the program has finished.

What can you do instead? Follow the same procedure to recycle any other type of water filter:

  1. Contact your filter maker. Ask if they offer a recycling program.
  2. If so, follow the directions.
  3. If yes, ask which kind of plastic was used for the filter casing. You can also examine the shell itself.
  4. Contact your regional recycler to learn what kind they accept.
  5. Recycle if possible. Otherwise, throw in the garbage.

Conclusion

The environmental footprint of bottled water — reclaimed or not — is often bigger than that of filtered water. Hence even if your filter maker doesn’t have a recycling program, you’re doing the environment a big favor. And if you haven’t bought a filter system just yet or are planning to replace your older one, consider picking a brand, making recycling a priority.

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