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How and Where to Recycle Water Filters?

A glass of water in front of filter cartridges

Today, more people than ever are using water filters so they can drink purer, healthier water that tastes better than what comes out of their tap. These filters are convenient and useful, but every so often, you have to replace them, and the old filters start to pile up. For the environmentally conscious, this creates a problem; you don’t want to simply throw out all that plastic, metal, and whatever else is in those filters.

Recycling them is clearly a much better option than throwing them away to pack the landfill, but it’s not as simple to recycle a water filter as just dropping it into the recycling bin. If you want to recycle your water filters in the safest, most environmentally friendly way, you’ll want to keep reading to learn about the steps you’ll need to take.

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What Makes Water Filters Difficult to Recycle?

Today, there are many different types of water filtration systems, and most of them use some type of replaceable filter cartridge. This means that if you’re using a filter for your drinking water, you’re probably going to have filters to recycle.

The problem is that all of these filters are made with different materials. Some are made primarily out of plastic while others are constructed of metal. And don’t forget about the numerous materials inside the filters that are responsible for the filtration process, including carbon and special filter membranes that can contain arsenic and other potentially harmful substances.

Because of the differences between filters, each one will have to undergo a unique process to be recycled. So, you can’t just drop off a bunch of different filters at a recycling plant; they won’t be properly equipped to handle the specifics of those water filters.

A glass of water on the background of filter cartridges
Image Credit: Serhii Moiseiev, Shutterstock

How Can You Recycle a Water Filter?

So, what exactly are you supposed to do with your water filters then? Certain manufacturers offer recycling programs for their water filters. If the manufacturer of your filters has a recycling program, then you should be able to send the filters back to the manufacturer, and you might even get some credit for doing so.

Brita Water Filters

Brita water filters are the easiest to recycle thanks to Brita’s filter recycling program in conjunction with TerraCycle. All you have to do is sign up on the Brita website, let the products dry out, and send them into Brita, with shipping costs covered by the company. You’ll even earn My Brita reward points, which can be redeemed for coupons, prizes, and more. Unfortunately, you’ll have to save up five pounds of used filters minimum before recycling, but that shouldn’t take too long!

Brita Water Filter Pitcher disassembled

Zero Water

Zero Water offers an in-house recycling program for their water filters. You won’t need five pounds worth of filters to send them in either. You just need to return two full-size filters and fill out this form. When you do, you’ll receive a $20 coupon that’s redeemable on any four-pack of Zero Water filters, saving you a substantial amount on your overall water filtration costs.

ZeroWater Replacement Filter for Pitchers

PUR Filters

PUR was offering a similar recycling program as Brita’s through the same company, TerraCycle, but it doesn’t appear to be active anymore.

PUR RF3375 Water Filter Replacement

Zero Waste Box

TerraCycle, the same company that teamed up with Brita to help offer their recycling services, provides another way to recycle water filters or filters of any kind for that matter. Unfortunately, it’s not an ideal method of recycling. Through the Brita recycling program, you’ll get credit for the filters you recycle and you won’t have to pay a dime. But with a zero-waste box, you’ll have to purchase the box first, then fill it with your recyclables. Essentially, you’re paying to recycle your water filters, making them more expensive than just their purchase price.

Throw Them Away

While it’s definitely best to recycle your water filters, if possible, it’s just not always feasible. If you use filters from an off-brand and you don’t want to pay for a zero-waste box, you might simply be out of luck since you can’t just take your filters down to the local recycling plant. If that’s your situation, then you might want to consider simply throwing them away. While it’s not the perfect solution, it might be the only one you’ve got left, unless you want to throw your money away on a zero-waste box.


Emptying a Water Filter

You may have seen that sometimes it’s recommended for you to open up your water filters and dump out the contents. This is not a great idea, however, and we don’t recommend it. There are many contaminants trapped within your filter, and when you dump out the contents, you’re reintroducing them to the environment to contaminate again. Even some of the materials used in the filter’s construction could be harmful to the environment, such as silver that’s used to make some water filters.

Related Read: 10 Best Countertop Water Filters – Reviews & Top Picks

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Conclusion

Unfortunately, even though water filters are more popular than ever, there’s no easy and convenient way for you to recycle them yet. Hopefully, we’ll have some new ways to safely dispose of these convenient devices in the future, but for now, your options are limited.

If you use Brita water filters, you’re in luck, as their recycling program will pay for shipping costs and even give you My Brita points you can later redeem for rewards. Zero Water also offers rewards to customers for recycling through their program, though other filter manufacturers don’t offer such programs. Still, you can recycle other water filters if you’re willing to pay for the service. Otherwise, you’ll have to resort to throwing them in the trash. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes, it’s the only option. Just don’t cut the filter open and risk introducing harmful compounds to the environment around your home!


Featured Image Credit: Serhii Moiseiev, Shutterstock

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