By Rehan Iqbal
Filtering your tap water is a great way to enjoy better quality water and avoid sending great whopping piles of plastic to the landfill. One problem that worries many people who choose this solution to the bottled water problem is the fact that the filters are also made of plastic. Of course, the filters represent a whole lot less plastic than the bottles needed for bottled water, but nonetheless it would be nice to be able to recycle them, too. In this article, we discuss the steps necessary to recycle your water filters and identify several different programs that will allow you to do just that. Read on to learn more.
Begin by finding out whether or not the company that makes your water filter has a recycling program in place. To do this, you would locate the phone number or email address of the manufacturer on their website and then reach out to them. Ask them if they have a recycling program and if they say yes, your problems are solved! Just follow the instructions provided by the company to send your used filters in for recycling.
Companies that have a program in place usually ask you to allow filters to dry out for two or three days before sending them. This isn't typically a problem because they also ask you to collect a significant number of filters before sending them off. Generally speaking, you should have about 5 pounds worth of filters saved before you send them off to the manufacturer for recycling.
To do this, you could just set aside a box in your garage , under your kitchen sink, in the back of a closet or some other out-of-the-way place. Line it with a plastic bag, and toss your used water filters into it after you given them a couple of days to dry. When the box is full and you have 5 pounds, ship it off to the address the manufacturer will provide you.
Which Companies Have Filter Recycling Programs
Quite a few water filter companies have some sort of recycling program in place. Two very popular water filter manufacturers, Brita and PUR have made an arrangement with a recycling company called Terra cycle.
With both of these companies, you can make contact through their official websites and sign up for the programs. This will enable you to recycle all of the products that these companies make including:
Instructions for preparing your products for recycling are displayed on the websites.
Generally speaking, you will simply allow the products to dry out thoroughly and gather together a minimum of 5 pounds to ship back to the company for recycling. You will be able to print out a shipping label free of charge to affix to your box.
When you send in shipments of water filtration equipment for recycling, you earn points which you can use to donate to charitable organizations.
Another company, ZeroWater, also offers a recycling program. You can visit their website to download their recycling form and get complete instructions.
Instead of giving you points that you can use to donate, within a couple of weeks of their receipt of your recyclables, they will send you a coupon for ten dollars that you can use to buy more filters. Shipping to ZeroWater is not free, but the coupon should offset your shipping expenses.
Here are a couple of other companies that offer recycling programs:
What If the Company I Buy My Filters from Doesn't Have a Recycling Program?
If there is no program in place for your specific water filter, call your local recycling center and asked them what type of plastic they will accept. The plastic used for the filter shell is probably #5. You will see this number stamped into the plastic somewhere on the filter.
Look for three curved arrows in the shape of a triangle with a number inside. Give this number to your local recycler and find out if they recycle the type of plastic that your filter is made of. If they do, they may accept your filters.
What If There Is No Local Recycler?
If there is no local recycler you can use, you may just have to toss the filter into the trash. Take heart in the fact that you are throwing out one small piece of plastic instead of dozens of plastic bottles.
You can also take heart in the fact that some garbage processing plants go through the garbage and take out everything that's recyclable so your filter may eventually be recycled anyway. This just depends on what happens at the end of the line when your garbage is processed.
Do You Have To Do Anything Special To Filters To Recycle Them?
Some say that you should cut or break open the cartridges and dispose of the contents separately, but this can be a difficult and risky business. You could easily hurt yourself trying to break into the very hard plastic used for water filters, and the contents may have rather dangerous concentrations of the impurities that have been filtered out of your tap water.
If you remove the contents of the filter, you have the problem of getting rid of the contents. You don't want to put them in your compost heap because they are full of impurities. All-in-all, it's probably better to simply send your filters off to the recycler intact and allow them to take care of the dirty work.
What About Refrigerator Water Filters?
Since a refrigerator is a big ticket item, it’s wise to double check recycling possibilities before you invest in a refrigerator with a water filtration system. If this isn't possible because you already have your refrigerator, you should contact the manufacturer and find out if they have a program in place.
These programs seem to change rather frequently. Companies that used offer filter recycling no longer do and some that didn't before now do. You'll just have to check and see what the process is regarding your specific refrigerator.
If you find out that your refrigerator manufacturer does not have a filter recycling program in place, contact your local recycler to find out if they do.
Even Without Filter Recycling, You Are Making A Positive Impact!
Whether or not the company that makes your filters has a recycling program, know that by choosing to filter your tap water instead of buying bottled water you are making a real, positive impact on the environment.
The production of bottled water is an ecological disaster from start to finish. Making and disposing of the bottles creates horrendous amounts of pollution. The water that is used in bottled water is typically not any better than your tap water, and it is more or less stolen from the places where it is sourced.
Even if you have to simply throw away your water filter, you are still doing our one and only planet a big favor by filtering your water your tap water. Not only are you avoiding creating pollution, you are also supporting your local utility and staving off the push to privatize water.
As if that weren’t enough, you are also providing yourself with healthy drinking water and keeping your pocketbook a little bit fatter!