How can I reuse or recycle single-cup coffee filters?

individual-filter-coffeeWe’ve had an email from Steve asking:

How can I reuse or recycle one-cup filter coffee packs?

I think Steve means these – little plastic pots that you put on the top of your cup/mug and fill with boiling water. The water then seeps through the filter-coffee-filter sandwich at the bottom et voila!, a cup of filter coffee without needing a machine.

I think the first thing to suggestion here, as in many cases, is see if you can stop or reduce using them. I realise they’re a handy substitute for offices where there aren’t machines or anything like that, but you can get reusable one-cup filter things and cafetieres/plungers aren’t expensive either. Both of those option cut down your waste by loads and it’s also easier to reuse the coffee grounds from them too.

If you do have to use them though, it’s of course better to reuse them or recycle them instead of just binning them. I wonder if it would be possible to refill them – you might have to replace the upper filter as well as the coffee though – and that would probably be so much faff that it wouldn’t be worth it.

As for other reuses, like nearly everything vaguely pot shaped, you could use it as a small plant pot – the filter at the the bottom would allow drainage. Any other suggestions?

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2 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle single-cup coffee filters?”


  1. carol says:

    I have never seen these, but if you have to use them, could you freeze things in them, like baby food plops or juices, that kind of thing? Maybe they can be used to play with in the tub or sand box, or for small scoops.

  2. PlymouthD says:

    I know this is an old thread, but I couldn’t resist sharing my Eureka moment…

    I have been trying to re-use these things for ages; cutting out little round bits of filter paper etc. but it never really worked well. The problem is that if the boiling water isn’t forced to flow through two bits of filter paper, it passes through the grounds too quickly and you end up with a watery coffee. However, as with many solutions, the simplest turns out to be the best:

    1. In these things, the coffee is sandwiched between two circles of filter paper. Once you’ve used one, cut the top circle of paper out and discard, remove the old coffee grounds and then rinse and leave it to dry.
    2. Use two of these ‘emptied’ filters. Put some fresh filter coffee in one, and then sandwich it with the other.
    3. Use as normal.

    It works perfectly and I reckon it can be reused indefinitely so long as you rinse it under the tap and allow it to dry after each use.



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