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Because You Asked

Because You Asked: Can I Recycle Coffee Filters?

By Recyclebank |
Coffee filters aren’t as straightforward to dispose of as regular recyclable paper, but there are lots of simple ways to minimize their impact.


Dear Recyclebank: Can you recycle rinsed and dried coffee filters? –Linda B.

Dear Linda: While you’ve got the right idea about trying to remove contamination by rinsing your filters, unfortunately, oils from the coffee grounds can still remain trapped in the fibers. This makes them unsuitable for the recycling process, as the oils affect the quality of the paper created. Because of this, recycling programs generally won’t accept paper coffee filters.

Don’t worry, though: There are still plenty of ways to put your old filters to good use. With careful rinsing, you should be able to use a filter more than once (this may affect the flavor of your brew a bit). If you have a compost pile, filters can be added along with your coffee grounds for a convenient solution to your disposal needs. Coffee filters are also good for a variety of household uses like polishing glass or packing delicate items. And to further reduce your coffee filter footprint, you can reconsider what kind of filters you purchase; look for ones that aren’t bleached, or ones made from recycled paper.

If you’re still concerned about the impact of your coffee habit, paper filters aren’t your only option. Try a reusable coffee filter made of metal mesh (make sure it’s compatible with your particular coffee maker). You could also use this as an opportunity to experiment with a different method of brewing coffee that doesn’t require paper, like a French press. No matter how you get your java fix, you have options to make your habit more environmentally friendly.

What’s your favorite way to make coffee? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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  • Arlene A. 2 months ago
    I made a fabric filter for my coffee maker from muslin (sewed by hand) and as long as I rinse it after it cools, the taste of my coffee is not affected.
  • Steven C. 2 months ago
    Instead of using filters, purchase a reusable screen for under $5 at a big box store.
  • Susan G. 2 months ago
    My pharmacist told me that a safe way of disposing of old pills is by putting them in coffee grounds (the more grounds, the better) in which they dissolve without harming the environment and/or ground water. Don't toss old pills down the toilet!
    • Irene S. 2 months ago
      I do the same it works
    • Jeanne E. 2 months ago
      In my neighborhood there are locked medication boxes in police departments. I save up the old meds I no longer need/use and dispose of them in these receptacles, where they are disposed of in a responsible manner
  • Sharon L. 3 months ago
    I vermicompost (composting with worms) and have found that my worms make short order of them. They also produce the best organic material for the yard I have ever used.
  • Carol P. 3 months ago
    I was also told that you can put the coffee grounds in your sink and it will smell better and also help clean out the pipe.
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