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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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  • ALEX R. 6 days ago
    Guess I am a wasteful person, but with the coffee I make, there is a lot of oil floating on top from the grounds. I put in a melitta, then put the gold filter in and put the coffee in there. This helps catch a lot more of the oil. I am on a septic, which you aren't supposed to put the grounds down. I still get a tiny amount down , as it is impossible to get them all out before washing unless you would let it dry first and then brush before. I hadn't known you could compost the brown melitta. Now I will. I did compost my grounds for years, along with my peelings.
  • Amani S. 13 days ago
    Why would you not compost it? It is a waste to use water to clean them. And paper that has come in contact with food should be composted. If you don't have a place to compost and the there is no place that accepts it. Check with public gardens that might be in the path of your job. Partner with schools to start a local garden and a place for composting.
  • joanna l. 18 days ago
    I use a percolator type of coffee maker for my filter needed
  • tommy b. 25 days ago
  • Mark F. 26 days ago
    Don't forget these can be composted.
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