Water filters are a fantastic way to make sure that your drinking water is safe and free from dangerous contaminants. Tap water, although treated at a plant, is still full of bacteria and chemicals that may prove hazardous to your health over time. Luckily, there are now a wide range of filter jugs and home filtration systems that remove the vast majority of these elements from your drinking water. 

While these filters tend to last a long time with the proper maintenance and care, eventually, you may wish to purchase a new filter. If you have an old water filter and are wondering how to dispose of it in the best way, this guide will give you all the information you will need. We’ll explain how to check whether your filter is on its last legs, how to recycle a variety of popular brands, and finally, how to take care of your water filter to ensure it lasts as long as possible.

How can you tell if your water filter is too old?

Before you start looking into how you can recycle your water filter, here are some tips on figuring out whether your filter really is too old to be used.

You should note that this article will focus on recycling the filter cartridges. Most filters need to be replaced every once in a while while the jug itself (the refrigerator system) will remain usable once a new cartridge is installed.

The lifespan of the average water filter cartridge is around six to twelve months. This will depend on the make and model of your water filter. It also depends on the quality of your tap water. If you tap water is unusually high in contaminants, your water filter will likely need to be changed more frequently.

Why should you even worry about recycling your water filters?

Water filters are made up of a variety of components, some of which are easier to recycle than others. However, if you have an old filter, it’s important that you figure out which parts can be recycled and where. If you simply dump your filter in the trash, you will be contributing to the massive amount of plastic waste. If you dump the entire filter in the recycling, you risk contaminating an entire batch of recycling and creating even more waste

Can you recycle water jug filters? 

Some companies have recycling programs in place, while others do not. Here are a few major water filter brands that do have recycling programs in place.

Everpure filters

Everpure is a company that is dedicated to making the recycling process easy. The Everpure cartridges are made of aluminum and plastic which makes them easily recyclable. To recycle Everpure filters, contact the company to find the nearest drop-off location. It is also possible to mail your cartridges to a recycling site if there are no locations close to you.

Filtrete Water Station

Filtrete use #2 plastic, which is easily recycled. In fact, this is the same type of plastic used to make standard milk jugs. You will need to separate the filter from the plastic. Dispose of the filter in the trash and place the plastic in your recycling.

Mavea Water Filters

Mavea has an excellent customer-friendly recycling scheme. The company pays the shipping cost for you to mail your old filter cartridges to their recycling point. Be sure to follow their guidelines and save at least six cartridges before shipment. This will reduce your carbon footprint by reducing the amount of shipping. The company will then break down the filters, clean the materials, and reuse them for new filter cartridges.

Brita Water Filters

Brita has a comprehensive recycling scheme in place. Manually dry the used filters and remove any excess water, then let them dry for at least three days. Brita recommends that you collect at least five pounds of recyclable products before shipment. After you have enough filters, wrap them in a recyclable bag and pack them in a box. Use Brita’s website to create an account and print a free shipping label. 

Brita uses their recycled products to create a range of products, including toothbrushes, razor handles, and cutting boards. Any contaminants in the used filters are regenerated for an alternative use.

Can you recycle the entire water jug?

Most jugs are made with plastic. Depending on what type of plastic is used, you should be able to recycle the jug. Plastics are numbered from one to seven. Find out what number of plastic your jug is made of. Types one, two, and sometimes four are readily recyclable. Type three is never recyclable. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly to enquire about recycling the jug. 

Can you recycle refrigerator water filters?

Refrigerator filters are similar. Simply contact the manufacturer of your filter to see if they have a recycling program in place. If not, here are a few alternative options available for a wide range of filters. 

Whirlpool recycle & refresh recycling program

This program will help you recycle just about any type of refrigeration water filter. You will receive a kit that includes a prepaid mailer and a sheet of instructions. Simply remove the used filter and pop it in the mail. The recycled materials will be used in concrete for roads and construction. 

GE refrigerator recycling program

This program aims to recycle 100% of the used refrigerator filter. When you order a replacement filter from GE, they will send you a kit with prepaid mailing. The plastic will be reused, and the charcoal filter will be used in landfill liners to help keep local water supplies safe from contamination.

Tips on recycling water filters

  1. Beware of scams! Do thorough research on the company you choose to use to recycle your products. If you discover that your water filter company does not offer a recycling program, you may be tempted by one of the many online companies claiming to recycle your used cartridges for a small fee. Unless you are sure the company is reputable, avoid paying for recycling schemes.
  1. Do not cut open yourself. You may also find online instructional videos and tutorials showing you how to take the cartridge apart so that you can recycle its various components yourself. This can be incredibly dangerous, as you risk exposing your family and your home to the dangerous contaminants that have built up in your filter over the past few months. 
  1. Contact local stores. Instead of doing it yourself, do some research on which stores in your area are equipped with filter recycling facilities. Home Depot stores tend to offer filter recycling, for example. 

How to maximize the lifespan of your water filter with proper cleaning

Depending on the condition of your old water filter, you may be able to extend its life by cleaning it thoroughly. You can try using water and bleach to clean out the filter. However, this practice is not always recommended. While a good clean can help the filter to perform well, you may miss some of the continents lodged in the filter. Remember, your drinking water will pass through these elements every time you use the filter, so, over time, this old filter will become dangerous. 

Final Thoughts

We hope this guide has helped you figure out how to recycle those pesky water filters. Filtration systems can be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. With a good water filter, you will reduce the amount of plastic bottles you purchase. However, if you throw away your old filter cartridges rather than recycling them, you will eventually build up quite a lot of waste.

Do your best to figure out whether recycling is a viable option for your old filters. Contact the company to enquire about whether they offer a recycling program. If they do not, enquire at your local Home Depot or grocery store to see whether they accept old water filters. Finally, you could try using a service like the Whirlpool recycle and refresh program, which can handle just about any brand of water filter.

Whether you manage to recycle your filter or not, remember to change the filters regularly. The most important thing is that you keep your water supply fresh and safe.