Are Refrigerator Filters Recyclable?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: April 29, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Refrigerator water filters offer an excellent way to ensure the water you’re drinking is safe and free from toxic contaminants. 

However, it’s not good to use old water filters for a long time without changing them as they become less effective at filtering water.

It’s advisable to change your water filters after every 6 months. So what happens to the old filters? You can imagine how much refrigerator water filters waste Americans dispose of in the landfills twice a year.

So are the refrigerator water filters recyclable? Yes, refrigerator water filters are recyclable, but only the plastic parts. 

That’s because charcoal or sand can contaminate the entire recycling process.

Here’s what you should know about recycling refrigerator water filters. 

What Are Refrigerator Water Filters Made Of?

Refrigerator water filters primarily are plastic tube-like parts made of carbon layers to help trap small and larger particles in water. 

They comprise carbon granules made from charcoal, nutshells, or wood materials.

But carbon is the best material used as a water cleanser as it perfectly removes harmful substances through absorption. 

It is also preferred due to its ability to act as a catalyst and change the chemical composition of some contaminants.

Are Refrigerator Water Filters Recyclable?

Yes, refrigerator water filters are recyclable. They contain a varied range of recyclable materials. Some of these materials are a bit more straightforward to recycle than others. 

It’s therefore vital to understand the parts capable of getting recycled and where specifically to do so.

Throwing your refrigerator water filters in the trash adds to the huge amount of plastic waste already ravaging our planet. 

If you take the whole filter for recycling, you may risk contaminating the entire recycling batch.

In addition, it may create more waste as you’ll be taking the wrong things to the recycling unit. 

So you should disassemble your old refrigerator water filter and separate the plastic parts from the carbon granules or sand.

Some refrigerator brands have recycling programs to help reduce water filter waste, while others don’t. 

Below are the different methods through which your refrigerator water filters can get recycled:

1. Local Recycling Programs

These programs allow you to throw your old water filters into a recycling bin and avail of them for scheduled recycling pick-up.

 You may earn a discount on your next refrigerator water filter purchase.   

2. Refrigerator Water Filter Brands

Not all refrigerator water filter manufacturers have recycling programs for these units. Companies like Samsung recommend you dump your filters together with your garbage.

They claim that these units are not dangerous to the environment and can safely get disposed of this way.

Manufacturers like Whirlpool and GE have options for recycling and may also offer incentives. They offer recycling kits to make the process easier. 

Look out for manufacturer filter recycling programs because not all of them offer incentives. 

3. Third-Party Programs

Not all brands provide recycling programs for their refrigerator water filters. 

In such cases, third-party programs can be an excellent way to dispose of these units properly.

The Gimme and G2Rev are good programs that will provide you with a water filter recycling kit alongside instructions to help you disassemble the filter, cleanse it, and mail it after three days. 

Can You Recycle Refrigerator Water Filters At Home?

Yes, but the process can be tricky as you must have special equipment and resources. 

The good thing is plenty of retailers or brand programs can take the recycling burden off your shoulders.

Since water filters help eliminate harmful chemicals and particles from water, chances are they have contaminants. So in most cases, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Disassemble the water filter to separate the cartridge, casing, and charcoal beads. 
  • Disinfect them by washing them in concentrated hydrochloric acid. The acid’s main purpose is to descale the filters. Plus, the process also kills any germs from the filters. It ought to be soaked for between three to five days.
  • Carefully wash it in high-pressure water. The process unclogs any debris from the filter and washes away disinfectant traces. 
  • Dry it and carefully return it to its compartment. Make sure not to touch it, risking contamination.
  • Mail the recyclable parts (cartridge and casing) to your local recycling center, third-party recyclers, or manufacturer for further processing or reuse.

What Can I Do With Old Refrigerator Filters?

Refrigerator filters are not entirely recyclable as certain parts like carbon beads may pose a significant danger to the recycling process. 

If you opt to dispose of old refrigerator filters, you’ll contribute to environmental problems.

However, there are some other ways to make use of your worn-out refrigerator water filters:

  • Make water spray cans. As much as they are old, they may still be able to purify water. This aspect makes them a good water purification agent. 
  • Demonstration of how it works. Since using new filters to demonstrate to learners may not be economical, one may prefer to use old ones for learning purposes. 
  • Checking contamination of water. This may be advantageous as water filters take up any chemical contaminants in the refrigerated water. Analysts may use them to check on the contaminants present in the water hence the quality of water supply or sale. 

The above are among the other things that one can do with old refrigerator filters. 

However, one must ensure their safety before touching them for any other use. 


That said, are refrigerator water filters recyclable? Yes. But you must separate the refrigerator cartridge, casing, and charcoal beads. 

Taking the entire unit to a recycling center could cause contamination. 

That’s because water filters serve the sole purpose of making water clean and safe for consumption by trapping contaminants, including disease-causing germs.

You may leverage your manufacturer’s recycling programs and earn some incentives if you’re lucky. 

But if they don’t offer any recycling programs, opt for the local or third-party programs. 

You won’t miss at least one in your area to help you get rid of old refrigerator water filters properly rather than disposing of them in landfills.

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