What To Do With Old Water Filters Instead Of Throwing Them Away

As an Amazon Associate, Ecotero earns from qualifying purchases.

Today, we will share some eco-friendly ideas regarding what to do with old water filters.

Because while a water filtration system helps reduce plastic waste and is a sustainable alternative to water in plastic bottles, water filters have also caused some environmental issues.

Why? Most consumers don’t know what else to do with their old water filters other than to throw them in the trash, resulting in more trash in landfills.

Hence, we did some research and came up with this article.

Let’s get started.

What happens to old water filters after you throw them away?

If you throw away old water filters in the bin, they will be collected together with your other home trash.

Unfortunately, only a few recycling facilities will be able to recycle water filters, so they will likely end in landfills.

And while most water filters contain no toxic chemicals that can harm the environment, their housing, and other interior parts are non-biodegradable and will remain in landfills for years to come.

What are water filters made of?

Image Source: Water Filter Guides

Most water filters have a filtering ingredient (made of carbon, plastic, etc.) and are held together with plastic or metal casing, depending on their manufacturer.

For instance, Brita’s water filters are made with polypropylene, while Everpure filters contain aluminum. 

This is why it is hard to recycle water filters because they require different recycling methods depending on their composition.

So, if throwing them away is not advised, what should you do with old water filters?

Here are some eco-friendly alternatives.

Best Eco-Friendly Ways To Dispose Old Water Filters

1. Clean and reuse old water filters

Reusing old water filters is one of the best things to do with them.

Depending on the type of water filter you use, cleaning and reusing them might be a viable option.

There are many kinds of water filters. Here are some of the most commonly used ones.

Different Types of Water Filters

Activated carbon water filter system

Activated carbon, also known as activated carbon granules or AC, is the most commonly used household water filter.

It is based on charcoal made by burning wood and other materials in a reduced oxygen supply.


Activated carbon water filters are great for removing many common impurities in the water, including chlorine-based chemicals, pesticides, and industrial solvents.

However, it quickly clogs up with impurities and must be replaced regularly.

Reverse osmosis water filter system

This is the type of water filter you need if arsenic or other dangerous compounds are present in your water.

Reverse osmosis (RO) water filters effectively remove dissolved inorganic contaminants from water by forcing them through a semipermeable membrane, filtering everything bigger than a water particle.

However, this type of water filter requires electrically powered pumps to generate water pressure to force water through the membrane, which costs money to run.


And unfortunately, reverse osmosis systems produce quite a lot of wastewater.

Nevertheless, reverse osmosis is superb in providing your household with safe drinking water.

Ion exchange water filter system

Ion exchange filters are made from lots of zeolite beads containing sodium ions. 

In Layman’s terms, zeolites are solids particles with a relatively open, three-dimensional crystal structure built from the elements aluminum, oxygen, and silicon, together with alkali or alkaline-Earth metals (such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium) and water molecules.

This type of water filter traps incoming magnesium and calcium ions, making the water tastes softer and more pleasant. 

However, ion-exchange filtration needs to be recharged periodically with more sodium ions, typically by adding a special salt.

Familiarizing the water filter you are using will give you an idea of if you can reuse them.

For starters, a water filter using activated charcoal, in some capacity, can be refreshed.

You can open the water filter cartridge and add fresh activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal can be bought or made by drying and processing coconut shells at high temperatures.

For more information on how to clean your water filter, click here.

2. Find ways to recycle old water filters

Is a water filter recyclable? The short answer is yes.

While the options are limited at the moment, you can recycle water filters in different ways.

So how to recycle water filters? Some water filter manufacturers let consumers return empty cartridges to them so they can completely reuse them for the fresh batch of water filters! 

For example, Brita and PUR have teamed up with TerraCycle to handle the recycling of their old water filters.

TerraCycle is a recycling and upcycling company committed to repurposing “non-recyclable” products into new affordable, innovative products and supplies.

If you can’t send old water filters back to the manufacturer for recycling, there are other ways you can consider.

Alternatively, third-party entities such as Recycle Water Filters accept the recycling of used and old water filters.

They accept recycling different types of water filters, including:

  • Reverse Osmosis Water Filters
  • Carbon Water Filters 
  • Drinking-Water Filters
  • Sediment Water Filters
  • Well Water Filters
  • Refrigerator Water Filters

They also accept Samsung water filter recycling and Frigidaire water filter recycling. 

Furthermore, they will recycle almost all brands of water filters, including Brita water filters, PUR water filters, whirlpool water filters, Culligan water filters, and more.

Finally, you can search online for phrases like “water filter recycling near me” to get more options.

It might require extra effort on your part, but finding different means to recycle water filters is a great way to help reduce plastic waste caused by discarded water filter cartridges.

3. Learn how to repurpose and upcycle old water filters

Similar to old coffee makers, another eco-friendly thing to do with a used water filter is repurposing them.

Here are some options.

Make DIY home decor and crafts with your old water filters

Instead of contributing to plastic trash, you can use old water filter cartridges to decorate your home.

To get you started, below is a very easy way to repurpose a water purifier filter and a plastic food container into DIY home decor.

Make a DIY flower vase using an old water filters

Are you planning to add flowers or plants inside your home? You don’t need to buy a vase for the next one.

You can use your old water filter to make a beautiful DIY flower vase!

Make a DIY bird feeder with old water filter cartridges

Aside from this upcycled wine bottle bird feeder, you can also use your old water filter cartridges to feed the birds in your neighborhood.

Stack a few old cartridges on top of each other and hold them together with glue.

Then you can drill a hole at the bottom for access.

Final Thoughts on Proper Ways to Dispose Old Water Filters

We hope this article has given you some ideas on what to do with old water filters instead of throwing them in the trash.

You can either reuse, recycle, or repurpose them.

Finding means to properly dispose of old water filters in a more environmentally friendly way is crucial since the ecological footprint of bottled water is many times larger than that of filtered water.


And if you don’t have a water filter system just yet and are planning to get one (or replace your old one), consider choosing a water filter brand that makes recycling a priority.

Until here, and kudos for researching how to dispose of your old water filters without harming the planet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *