There are primarily two ways to dispose of water filters
- Sending them to a recycling facility
- Sending them back to the manufacturer, if that’s an option.
Apart from the recycling, using specific biodegradable materials in a water filter as compost is a way to get rid of water filters.
Some water filters feature compostable parts that you can use for composting.
With everything said, there are many factors that a user needs to consider before deciding what to do with an old water filter.
Different Types of Water Filters
Water filters come in different shapes and sizes. Due to this, you cannot treat them all the same way.
Based on the type of product and materials used, a user has to decide the best-suited course of action.
For this reason, knowing the many kinds and construction of water filters is essential to know how to dispose of them.
As the name gives away, faucet filters are attached to the inside of a tap to decontaminate the water passing through into the sink.
They are excellent for people who consume a lot of water during the day and don’t wish to be slowed down, which is the case with pitcher filters.
Pitcher or jug filters are essentially water containers with a filtration system installed at the top.
When the water is poured out of the jug, it goes through the mounted filter, resulting in a glass (or more) of clean, healthy water.
While pitcher filters are super convenient, they can only hold so much water. Due to this, users cannot enjoy an endless water supply as they would in a countertop filter.
There are two types of countertop filters:
One comes with a vessel to hold water, on top of which a filter is installed. The reservoir in this type of countertop filter has sufficient capacity (in some cases, up to 2-2.5 gallons).
This means you can get bacteria-free, clean water all day long.
However, typically the reservoir type of countertop filters are too big to fit in a fridge or cooler, which is why you will not get cold water.
If you don’t mind drinking room temperature water, this filtration contraption will work for you just fine.
Sink Tap System
In this filtration apparatus, a filter is attached to the main water line to the kitchen sink. It has its own tap, which releases clean water when turned on.
Unlike faucet filters, these countertop filters have a separate water outlet, so you don’t have to put a pause on other water-based chores when getting filtered water.
Under the sink and whole house, filters are other popular filtration systems used in homes. However, the two are different in their functioning and scope.
The former is installed under the sink, so it only cleans the water released into the basin.
On the contrary, the latter is an extensive filtration arrangement with multiple operation points placed all over the house. This mechanism purifies water in every part of a home.
How to Dispose of Water Filters
Regardless of the type of water filtration system you use, you must replace its filter every once in a while. If not, it will stop working correctly.
But replacing old filters means you need to come up with a solution to dispose of them. This is where recycling programs come into the picture.
That said, you cannot simply throw out-of-commission water filters into the trash or your curbside recycling bin for multiple reasons.
Firstly, you cannot be sure if your local facility will accept old filters for recycling.
Most municipal plants have a set of materials they recycle. But with water filters, you cannot know if they only contain recyclable items.
As a result, it’s possible that you send off an old and used filter for recycling, and it ends up contaminating the rest of the recyclables or, worse, jamming the plant itself.
Either way, sending a water filter is not the wisest strategy to get rid of old ones.
Most water filters are constructed with plastic, which is notorious for being unrecyclable. Sure, there are some kinds of plastic that can be recycled, but those may not always be used in plastic products.
Recyclable plastics include
- PET or Polyethylene terephthalate- is commonly used to make food packaging, particularly beverage bottles and take-out containers.
- HDPE or High-density polyethylene- is a common component in detergent containers, shampoo/conditioner bottles, etc.
- LDPE or Low-density polyethylene- is used in plastic bags, colloquially known as polythene bags. LDPE is recyclable per se, but due to its flimsiness, it isn’t easy to recycle because it can jam the recycling machine. Therefore, many recycling facilities don’t accept items made with LDPE.
Unrecyclable plastics include
- PVC or polyvinyl chloride
- PP or polypropylene
- PS or Polystyrene
Now that you know which plastics are recyclable, you must be thinking that you can easily sort your water filters and send those made with PET, HDPE, or LDPE for recycling.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
First of all, most filters don’t come with a list of components used to make one. And even when they do, they hardly ever distinguish between the types of plastic used.
In other words, a product may only mention that it contains plastic, and that’s it. So your chances of knowing exactly which plastic is used in a water filter are slim to none.
In some cases, you may find a water filter with PET, HDPE, or any other plastic name mentioned on the package. But even then, you cannot send it for recycling without a second thought.
Why? Because even products claiming to be made with a certain type of plastic may contain traces of unrecyclable plastics that you will not know.
If you end up sending such an item for recycling, it will either cease the entire recycling process or block the machine.
Long story short, shipping old water filters to local recycling facilities may not be the smartest decision unless they claim to accept all kinds of plastics.
That brings us back to the question of how to dispose of water filters; so what do you do with old water filers. The first thing you need to do is check the brand.
Your Filter Brand Might Have the Recycling Option
Many water filter brands have in-house recycling plants to encourage users to send back used filters for recycling or disposal.
So if the one you use offers the provision to recycle old water filters, you can use it.
Some popular brand names with recycling plants are
Brita Water Filters
Brita has collaborated with TerraCycle to have its own recycling plant. If you use its filters, you can ship the used ones to the respective facility.
That’s not all! Brita also gives free shipping to its customers.
In other words, all you need is to contact the folks at Brita and ask them to pick up your used water filters.
Moreover, the company will give you redeemable reward points that you can later use to get discounts on your purchases.
Simply put, you essentially get incentives for getting your used water filters recycled.
But there is one downside to this process that you need to account for, which is your shipment package needs to be 5 lbs.
Due to this, you may have to wait a long while to get your reward points because compiling old water filters to weigh 5 lbs. can take some time.
To save yourself from all the waiting, you can ask your friends, family, and even neighbors to chip in and give their used filters to you as well.
Another player in the water filter business to offer in-house recycling of water filters is Zero Water.
If you are a Zero Water filter user, you can get your filters recycled by simply filling out a form and asking the company to pick up the package.
And the best part is that you don’t need to put together 5 lbs. worth of water filters; only two are enough to get the process started.
When you do that, you will receive 20$ as a reward coupon that you can use later on.
What to do If Your Filter Manufacturer Doesn’t Have a Recycling Program?
Companies without a recycling plant may use biodegradable materials in their filtration products.
If that happens to be the case with your water filter, you can dismantle it and use the compostable components as compost.
However, doing so may not be 100% safe as you cannot know if there are any harmful elements present that could enter the soil.
For this reason, you might want to get in touch with an industrial composting enterprise.
Another option, and a rather pricey one at that, is to purchase a Zero Waste Box.
TerraCycle has a product, Zero Waste Box, that can have all dubious recyclables. Once it’s filled, the company will take it off your hands and deal with everything inside.
But in exchange, you will not get any redeemable coupons or points.
So, if you are okay with spending money on dealing with your old water filters in an eco-friendly manner, you should invest in a Zero Waste Box.
Getting rid of out-of-commission water filters can be tricky, especially if you have an off-brand product.
If you want to save yourself from unnecessary trouble, be sure to invest in well-known brands that offer a recycling program.
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