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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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  • T E. 12 days ago
    I cold brew my coffee. It's really quite simple, and with a bit of planning to make the first batch, you don't have to wait for your coffee in the AM. I still use paper filters, 1 every other day, because non-paper filters do not remove toxins in coffee, but, by cold brewing my coffee, I'm saving 61 hrs per year of electricity I'd otherwise use to brew ever 2 cups of coffee! Cutting electricity consumption and saving pocket money, just buy using a wire mesh, 2 jars, and a coffee filter. I'm trying to come up with creative ways to 'reuse' my used filters now. We can't compost hear....landlady won't allow it.
  • Felicia W. 1 month ago
    I use the washable cone shaped filter in my coffee maker. I usually add the used coffee grounds the soil around my tomato and rose plants.
  • Barbara P. 2 months ago
    I have a Keurig and hated disposing of all those little cups. Sometimes I use the plastic ones and my own coffee, but I've found a coffee company that sells recyclable cups and they come in bags that are also recyclable too. It says so right on the bag.
  • Cyndi S. 2 months ago
    I love drip coffee and recycle the coffee and filters each time.
  • Barbara Y. 2 months ago
    I have used the unbleached filters as packing to protect glasses when moveing
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