How can I reuse or recycle … water filter cartridges?

A glass of waterWe’ve had an email from Hannah Phillips asking if anyone has any ideas on how to recycle old water filter cartridges.

Hannah started using water filters because she thought it would be less wasteful than buying bottled water – less plastic etc – but now has the cartridges to dispose of instead.

Brita brand filters (which seem to be one of the most prominent in the UK as far as I’ve seen) say all their cartridges can be recycled but what about other brands?

And how about reusing them rather than sending them in for recycling?

(Photo by jan-willem)

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57 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … water filter cartridges?”


  1. lavander says:

    That’s very neat. I wonder if there are any other locations (I’m in North America) that Brita will take back their cartridges.

  2. chris says:

    That’s really nice. But the purpose of changing cartridges is because they get dirty, and don’t filter properly anymore. Your article suggests reusing them instead of recycling them. How can we re-use them? Is it possible to clean them? Most are charcoal filled, and are not open able.

    (please e-mail me if you have a way to re-use them. I’d love to quit buying new ones!)

  3. Takaimaru Hirosaka says:

    You CAN reuse them You must first fun them through bleach, then let them site in already filtered water to get rid of any excess bleach. let them sit and dry then TA DA reusable filters. I have been doing this for a couple years now.

    • Starhawk says:

      Bleach is a bit scary. I seriously doubt if soaking in filtered water would remove much bleach containments. Besides Bleach is a serious environmental hazard in and of it self and far too toxic for household use.

  4. yo says:

    you can buy re-usable cartridges – they cost more but save in the long run.just rinse+re-use

  5. Dani says:

    Bleaching them, then soaking them is a good idea, however, after a while the carbon will no longer remove impurities from the water. Soaking it in salt water for about a day or two will reactivate the carbon, allowing it to continue filtering the water.

  6. anon says:

    Some designs, particularly ceramic filters (which we use at a vacation home to filter lakewater for drinking) can be washed off on the outside to extend their life a bit.

  7. Thomzo says:

    If you split them open carefully you end up with the case and the used granules which tend to be black and white. The granules can be used as decorative sand (eg. candle sand or with dried flowers). I did write to the rhs to see if it could be incorporated into the compost heap but they recommended not as they might contain metals.

    The case can then be used to store things or decorated as a flower pot.

    • Karlie says:

      If it’s simply carbon inside you can add it to the compost heap. There shouldn’t be anything in a public water supply or within potable well water that would cause harm to your pile. If your water does have heavy metals such as lead, you should really re-consider drinking the water – filtered or not.

  8. Gunner says:

    Has anyone had luck with microwaving the Brita filters? Brita themselves utilize a thernal process to regenerate/reactivate the charcoal in the returned/recycled filters they get back from the consumer/distributor.

  9. webimonster says:

    Hi everyone,
    I belive activate charcoal/carbon would have to be blown by stem on a high-pressure container in order to be reactivated. Activated charcoal/carbon are created by treating them with oxygen, making them porous and thus it absorbs most chemical impurities in it. Used carbons are already ‘filled’ up chemically and it’s not as easy as soaking them in bleach or saline solution to be reactivated again

  10. Jaason says:

    Soaking them in bleach makes no sense, they actually filter out the chlorine (or bleach as some call it) in the water, how would soaking it in bleach help? All you would be doing is adding to what the filter has already filtered out… I have heard soaking them in salt water, I actually had charcoal filters for my fish tank that were regenerated that way, the one thing to mention is bacteria, the charcoal will hold alot of bacteria but once its full it will start releasing it in in large quanities, not good for your membrane or you. The sediment filter is made of polypropeline and that is recyclable.

  11. Any water filter cartridges, whether pour-through or plumbed-in type send to us will be recycled to the fullest extent possible. You can send us your old filter even if it’s not one of our brands, and even if we didn’t supply it originally. All materials are seperated and recycled. We never advocate re-using expired water filter cartridges or treating them at home with chemicals. It’s vital to change filters at the correct intervals to prevent waterborne bacteria and to keep you drinking water clean, great tasting and wholesome.

  12. I have linked your site to the WATER PAGE of my website on the complementary /holistic lifestyle,

    http://www.jacynthacrawley.com/phdi/p1.nsf/supppages/bio?opendocument&part=12

    and will also add it to the Environment and Recycling Page
    http://www.jacynthacrawley.com/phdi/p1.nsf/supppages/bio?opendocument&part=13

    This e.mail is for information / politeness.
    I am an international author.

    Yours very sincerely

  13. louisa says:

    Brita now apparently offer recycling points in stores selling their products.

    Details below:

    Here at BRITA we do take our responsibility to environmental issues very seriously and in line with growing consumer demand for greener living, BRITA has launched a new in store recycling scheme. Recycling bins are now situated in a range of high street stores such as Robert Dyas, Argos and Cargo. Other major retailer collection points will be following soon.

    The BRITA branded bins will be located next to the existing water filter category in store. Customers can recycle any BRITA consumer product filter cartridge, including those for the new BRITA water filter taps.

    For further information regarding this scheme please contact the BRITACare department on 0844 742 4800.

  14. renee says:

    use the inside carbon for the compost heap then saw the plastic into rings for napkins or just saw off one end for a cool little tube seedling pot.

  15. While Brita filters are collected and recycled in Europe, the North American segment of Brita, which is owned by Clorox Corporation, does not have such a program.

    For any readers out there in the U.S. of Cananda, a group of us are working on a campaign to ask Clorox to create a take-back recycling program for the filter cartridges.

    I encourage you to read my blog posts about this issue and then join our Yahoo Group if you’d like. At this point, we are writing letters to the executives at Clorox but will be planning further actions when we figure out our strategy.

    http://www.fakeplasticfish.com/labels/Brita.html

    Scroll down to the bottom if you’d like to read the posts in chronological order.

    Beth

  16. Tracey Wilkinson says:

    I have just been speaking to Wendy on the Brita Filta helpline and she mentioned that if you take them to any ARGOS shop they will recycle the old cartridges for you, on Brita’s behalf.

  17. Cpt. Ed says:

    Active charcoal filter recycling;
    For many years both aquarium bone meal charcoal and water well filters I have recycled by drying in air and sunlight and then soaking in normal H2O2, hydrogen peroxide. Put them in a container, if nothing else a plastic bag and leave them soak for 24 hours. If the charcoal is separable lay in a glass dish, oven safe, and bake at 450F for about an hour. With aquaria or drinking water filters the biggest contaminant is bacteria. What few chemical or gas contaminants are there light heat such as this drives off most of what the peroxide has broken down. Peroxide is used to treat water in many areas. It is also useful as a wash for suspect fruits and veggies to neutralize many pesticides/herbicides and bacteria.

  18. steve brita sales assistant says:

    hi my name is steve and im a sales assistant for akcom filter systems,if you want to re-use your water cartridges you can.

    4 ways to do this.

    (1) soak in (COLD SALT WATER)FOR FOUR HOURS

    (2) take out of SALT WATER. and fill your jug of cold water no salt.

    (3) repeat this again only cold water.

    (4) then you are ready to use your
    filter.

    (BUT REMEMBER THIS PROCESS CAN ONLY GUARANTEE 2 APPLICATIONS AFTER THAT THE ACTIVE AGENTS WILL NO LONGER WORK)

    WE HAVE JUST GAVE YOU A LITTLE TIP THAT CAN SAVE YOU A FEW ££££

    PLEASE EMAIL ME AT steve_barnett123@yahoo.co.uk or elvetwiliams71@aol.com for more tips on water filters ETC also we sale the carts 6 for £1.50 our own make and you have a 28 day no quibble money back GUARANTEE

  19. akcom water systems says:

    hi i have wrote a review before i will just give you a brief product info of what we sale.All come with discount and we have offers daily.free P+P on some items.
    water cartridges 6 for £1.50 free p+p untill 21 sept 2008

    filter jug our own make akcom systems
    1x=£5.50+ 3 free cartridges £0.90 p+p

    water softners 1x£36.50 plus fitting.Fitting cost will be £10.

    that also has a 10 year guarantee.
    and you only need 1 water softner to 1 household.

    but we havent got a website at this minute as we have only setup our buisness but have email address steve_barnett123@yahoo.co.uk
    we will be opening our website very soon but you can still buy direct and because you buy direct the prices are low and for eveyone that buys before we set up our web site we will give a 4% discount.If you would like a item please give a discription of the item for example water cartridges and we will email you back comfirming dispatch or if you would like to use our direct orderline please phone 01225 709747 and one of our trained operators will take your order thanks on behalf of akcom water systems.
    ps. (the best thing about this is you don’t send a penny untill you recieve the items now we can’t say fairer than that)

  20. akcom water systems says:

    if you would like to enquire about any of our products please email us at steve_barnett123@yahoo.co.uk or elvetwilliams71@aol.com or direct 01225 709747 thanks. akcom water systems

  21. showerob says:

    It’s good to know that Brita recycles filters. I have been asked that questions a couple of times and I have not been able to provide answers.

    Hopefully more filter companies will take a similar responsibility.

  22. mojo says:

    anyone know if brita has a recycle system running in france please

  23. Serge Bosque says:

    BRITA:
    at Argos, Tesco, Robert Dyas, John Lewis etc….
    http://www.brita.net/uk/stockist_finder.html?cat=&scat=twickenham&L=1&promotion=yes1&recycling=1

    KENWOOD:
    they are so similar to Britta I hope the above shop will take them too

  24. The cartridges can be recycled, this is taken from their UK website

    “All components of the Brita cartridge are recyclable. Cartridges returned to Brita will be returned to our own recycling plant in Germany where the component parts are separated and processed for secondary use. For information on BRITA In-store recycling contact the BRITACare team on 0844 740 4800″

    As for some of the suggestions for reusing them by soaking in bleach it isn’t something I would like to test or recommend.

  25. Anonymous says:

    as we know woolworths have gone and our company akcom have bought some of there shops so you will shortly be seeing our shops merge in as we dont want to over power the other shops give them a chance

  26. Anonymous says:

    yes you can re-use your cartridges but it will save you money lots of it try it you will see

  27. As for some of the suggestions for reusing them by soaking in bleach it isn’t something I would like to test or recommend.

  28. Mary says:

    Does anyone know if Pur offers recycling for their water filters? I prefer that brand over Brita, because they claim to filter out more impurities than Brita, and they also manufacture their products using safe plastics.

  29. Ngaire says:

    There is another alternative instead of water filters.

    Use charcoal – not the charcoal for the BBQ. Charcoal that is suitable for drinking water filtration is usually made by experts. They have undergone years of firing charcoal using traditional methods and clay kilns.

    Great for use in cooking – place in rice to make the rice nice and fluffy, use to filter water – no plastic waste and saves on buying cartridges. I have used it when residing in Japan and have found a supplier in the UK – charcoal people. No – I am not a supplier or buyer or reseller of the product. Have recommended it to a few businesses who want to reduce large plastic bottles of water from certain water companies and looking for a more eco friendly alternative!

  30. sean says:

    what about boiling the sachets of active carbon and then leaving them in the sun to dry…. Sun is quite effective at disposing of the sort of nasties that might be lurking in the carbon granules pores…. that is assuming we get any sun this remaining part of the summer.
    Bleach does seem to be OTT why not put bleach in small quantities into the water and be done with the filters… thats what the water companies do……. mind you they know what quantities to use and I don’t.

  31. philip townsend says:

    Hi

    I know a retired Severn Trent Water employee that explained how they re-activate the charcoal that they use to clean the water supply, they run brine through the charcoal and we all know what brine is, yes salt water. The salt apparently not only re-activates the charcoal but also kills any bacterial contaminates.

    hope this helps

  32. Caleb says:

    here is a possibility for you guys. Empty and Refill your cartridges with new charcoal.

    http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-refill-a-disposable-Brita-brand-water-pit/

  33. elvet williams says:

    hi im back again if you need my help recycling your old water filters then give my office a ring on 01225 761911

    and i will be happy to give you advice

  34. Anonymous says:

    to allthe people at akcom watersystems thanks…………………………

    you have really helped me save time and money

    thumbs up

    • elvet williams says:

      hi yes we offer free advice if you need help just phone us between 9am-5pm mon-friday

      happy christmas

      from akcom

  35. mr says:

    what about using boiling water? will that help?

  36. Genavive Joseph says:

    If you have done the brine treatment, kindly share your experience, fab or not so fab. Cheers

  37. Kath in Newcastle-upon-Tyne says:

    I was looking for myself & found this info on : http://www.ehow.com/how_2179970_change-brita-water-filter.html

    Recycle your old filter. They can be returned to Brita Recycling, Freepost NAT17876, Bicester, OX26 4BR.

    It’s Freepost, so no stamps !

  38. Amie Sugat says:

    According to this website reactivating carbon would take an oxygen free environment and temperatures of over 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit.

    This probably means a potters kiln or a glass blowers kiln.

    Likely not something the average household has to use.

    However, the canisters likely can be refilled. Activated carbon and ammonia filtration substances can be purchased inexpensively at pet stores. and the old media can be composed or used as gravel at the bottom of fish tanks of flower pots.

    http://www.naturalsolutions1.com/whatcarb.htm

  39. kate says:

    you lot keep going on about brita but I use Boots and it’s a different brand. How do I get shot of them?

  40. diana says:

    yes, Ive just been looking through all this because Ive got a pile of boots cartridges to get rid of..I may just leave them at a Boots shop ,maybe if we give them back to deal with they might think of doing something about recycling-I buy them because they,re cheaper..I supose this may be the reason why..

  41. Jay says:

    I open the cartridge, dry the contents and then re-use them as a hand scub with washing up liquid to clean dirty hands. Otherwise the contents go onto the compost heap.

  42. laurie says:

    any good ideas for the woven plastic bags that purina dog food is packaged in?

    • AD says:

      Yeah. Use them as a potato bag. Basically you plant a potato in the bottom with it curled (folded up) backward and a few drain holes. Only use a little dirt – enough to cover the cut piece with the eye. As the potato grows, add more dirt and uncurl the bag. In the end, you should have about five pounds of potatoes if you take care of the plant like you would any other garden plant (water, sunlight, etc.)

  43. Rafa says:

    If they are tubular 1/2” inside diameter send them to me I recicle them
    CALLE SOCORRO #58, PMB-97
    QUEBRADILLAS, PR 00678
    United States

  44. wayne says:

    leave them to soak in a strong solution of sea salt for 3 or 4 hours then rinse through with hot water and hey presto you have a revived cartridge

    • mr g m a says:

      thanks will try this and see what happens

    • mr g ambrose says:

      thanks mate have done what you said and da da it works a treat have got eight new cartridges so if I reactivate all of them twice that is a saveing of about £40 and iam not going to do them in bleach like some one has said. that is for cleaning floors only in my eyes. and I only used 200grams of sea salt crystals in two pints of hot water.

  45. Troy says:

    My no name brand water filter comes apart nicely. I take out the filter bag and use the plastic container as a potpourri dish. I slip in some cinnamon sticks and other spices and voila… a great way to reuse.

  46. dwj says:

    I’d like to try out the “saline Soak” method so what is the concentration of the solution that would be used for soaking the used filter?
    ie how much salt in a liter of water (or a pint!!)

    dwandsj@gmail.com

  47. gina says:

    here is an article about how to dismantle your brita filter, refill it with activated charcoal (from the homebrew shop, or the acquarium shop if you want to risk it), and reuse it again! Old carbon on the compost heap (unless you are filtering our heavy metals), then, reuse the plastic!

    Saves lots of money in the long run…. And reduces plastic waste!

  48. tuckersmom says:

    reading most of the above, my conclusion was that i do want to reactivate my filter carbon. I’ll have to research a little more about soaking the filter contents in salt or bleach, but i wanted to mention/ask: bleach IS a salt, isn’t it? i think that’s right. so amount and time are the key factors to figure out



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