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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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  • Beth M. 27 days ago
    regarding the coffee filter article; my sister recommends placing the filter with the coffee grounds in a bathroom to absorb smells ! I even put it in my computer room; and if it is HAZELNUT - boy that smells great : )
  • Roseli Z. 1 month ago
    We've been using a reusable plastic mesh filter for years, and the coffee just tastes as good as it should, but most importantly, it's one less thing to throw in the trash!
  • LInda B. 1 month ago
    Yeah, just throw the paper filters into the compost pile, but a reusable filter ia an awesome thing!
  • Juanita C. 1 month ago
    Most of these comments deal with the grounds, not the filter. I find it amazing that you would recommend wasting precious water to rinse out a paper coffee filter.
    • Steven C. 1 month ago
      Good call. Remove the filter and throw it in the compost. Better yet, stop using paper filters and buy a screen. The cost less than $6 at Walmart and last for years. Mine is over 5 years old and is in great condition.
  • Carla N. 1 month ago
    We have had a gold-plated mesh coffee filter for years; while more expensive than paper, it has lasted beautifully and saved almost 3,000 paper filters from winding up in the trash.
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