Published on February 1st, 2012 | by Lynn Fang10
How to Recycle Brita Filters
Did you rely on your Brita filters to purify your drinking water? Brita is actually a great way to filter out chlorine, atrazine, zinc, and harmful contaminants copper, mercury and cadmium. I am a big fan of my Brita, but it does bring up the issue of plastic waste. Here we’ll detail how to recycle Brita filters with participating programs.
Who Wants to Recycle their Brita filters? This lady does!
For a long time, there was no way you could recycle your old Brita filter. But in 2008, Plastic-Free Pioneer Beth Terry decided to do something about this. She wrote to Clorox, now the owner of Brita, asking them about recycling the filters. They claimed the U.S. didn’t have the infrastructure for it, but Beth knew this was false because in Europe Brita had created its own recycling program, independent of community recycling programs.
So she ranted about the issue on her blog, and soon many others chimed in with the same dilemma. Beth started a Yahoo group with other bloggers, which turned into a campaign. She started a website, petition, and even collected used Brita filter cartridges from supporters.
After 16,000 petition signatures, 600+ filters collected, and the support of many other bloggers and environmental organizations, Brita finally figured out a way to recycle the filters, and there are now it’s easy to recycle your Brita filter.
How to Recycle Brita Filters with Partner Programs
Preserve is a great company that makes household items from recycled #5 plastic, the kind of hard plastic used to make Brita’s water filters (among other things like yogurt cups and food containers). A recycling program was created between Preserve, Brita, and Whole Foods, and at their last update, they had recycled 25 million filters. Preserve collects Brita filters and gives them a new life as a toothbrush or as a disposable razor. Often plastic recycling of this sort is pretty energy intensive, but according to Preserve’s analysis, it is environmentally better to recycle them with their Gimme 5 program. It’s not perfect, since they still have to use new plastic to make new filters, but it’s better than tossing out the filter to a landfill. According to Brita, the filter ingredients– activated carbon and ion exchange resin with removed water contaminants– will be regenerated or converted into energy.
[Editor’s Note: as of 2016 Preserve/Gimme 5 no longer accepts Brita filters.
TerraCycle seems to be the only company that currently offers Brita filter recycling [Editors Note, as of 3/2018. With their Brita Brigade, you can send in your filters, earn points for recycling, and use for charitable gifts, product bundles, or a payment of $0.01 per point to the non-profit organization or school of your choice. Each TerraCycle shipment earns points, and there’s no limit to how much you can send in. Sounds like a good community project to me! Learn more about how to recycle Brita filters with TerraCycle here.
Three Options to Recycle your Brita Filter:
Mail your filters to Preserve Find a Gimme 5 location to drop off all your #5 plastics. Click the link to search your zip code.
- Mail your filters TerraCycle
Instructions for how to Recycle Brita Filters:
- Dry the filter by shaking off excess water and setting it in a dry place for at least three days.
- Wrap the filter in a plastic grocery bag, which will be recycled.
- Send to TerraCycle: shipments need a special UPS shipping label: sign in and find it here.
- -or- Find a Gimme 5 Drop-off location here. Drop the wrapped filter in the bin.
- -or- If there isn’t a Preserve Gimme 5 location near you, simply pack your wrapped filter in a box (will be recycled) and mail it via ground shipping to:
Preserve Gimme 5
823 NYS Rte 13
Cortland, NY 13045
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Water pitcher photo from Shutterstock