Don’t Throw Away Your Old Refrigerator Filters: Do This Instead

Don't Throw Away Your Old Refrigerator Filters: Do This Instead

If you have a refrigerator, it’s very likely that it has a water filter that purifies the water that you drink and make ice with. They really improve the taste and quality of your drinking water. When you replace the spent filter with a new one, you may be wondering what you should do with the old refrigerator filter.

You can dispose of your used refrigerator water filter by throwing it in the garbage or by recycling it. The recycling options for your spent fridge filter includes sending it back to the manufacturer, finding a third-party recycler, or recycling it with your local government’s program. Depending on which refrigerator you have and where you live, you may find that some of these recycling options are not available.

In this article, we’ll discuss what refrigerator filters are and why you need one. We also cover how you can properly dispose of them as well as your options for recycling your spent fridge filter. Keep reading to learn more.

What Does a Refrigerator Filter Do?

Most new refrigerators come with a water filter that removes impurities like particles, rust, and sediment. They also remove chlorine which can give your water a chemical taste.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re drinking water from a swimming pool, then you know why you have a refrigerator water filter. They really improve the quality and the taste of your water and rice

The water filter in your refrigerator has a finite life. It can only remove so much chlorine and other impurities before it becomes spent. After it’s used up, you need to take the old filter out and install a new one.

Most refrigerator manufacturers instruct you to replace the filter after six months or when you start to notice a loss of quality in your water.

Read my article on how to know when it’s time to replace your refrigerator filter.

What Should I Do with My Old Refrigerator Filter

So now that you’ve replaced the old refrigerator filter with a new one, what do you do with the spent filter?

If you look in your refrigerator manual, it doesn’t tell you what to do with the used filter. Most people simply throw the old filter in the garbage and that’s the end of it.

Unfortunately, millions of people are throwing their water filters away, too. With everyone throwing their dirty filters in the trash, what happens to them?

Can I Throw My Spent Fridge Filter in the Garbage?

Most of the old fridge filters end up in landfills. This is an acceptable method of disposing your old filter.

I checked with my refrigerator manufacturer and the big box store I bought it from. Both of them told me that it’s OK to throw my spent refrigerator filter in the garbage.

Let’s explore this in detail most old refrigerator filters end up in the garbage and then they end up in a land in overtime these filters can take up a lot of space they fill up the Lancer

Methods for Disposing of Old Refrigerator Filters

What are the options available for disposing of these filters? Keep reading to learn more.

1. Dispose of old refrigerator filter in the garbage

You can throw the spent fridge filter in the garbage. This is what most people do to dispose of their used filters. They simply throw it away, and it goes out with the rest of the trash.

This works fine because the spent filter is properly managed. It doesn’t end up on the side of the road or in the ocean.

However, this isn’t an ideal situation because the millions of filters being used every month end up in landfills. We’re already running out of space for the huge quantities of trash we throw away every year. The old refrigerator filters are contributing to that problem.

2. Recycle old refrigerator filter

You can also recycle the old filter instead of throwing it in the trash. This is a much better option than simply throwing it away because it helps reduce landfill space. Plus, you’re doing something good for the environment by reusing materials that would otherwise be wasted and thrown away.

To me this seems like a much better option because we’re not simply throwing something away and we’re reusing the wrong materials that go into the filter so they can be put to productive use again.

How Does Refrigerator Filter Recycling Work?

Many refrigerator companies have arrangements where you can return their spent filter to be recycled. You sign up for the recycling service, mail the spent filter to the processing center, and they recycle the used filter.

Ship used refrigerator filters to recycler

Start by finding out how to recycle your spent fridge filter in your area. This might be a recycling company, your local municipal government, or possibly the manufacturer of your refrigerator.

Find a program that works for you and sign up for it. Then all you do is ship the spent filter every time you replace it. The facility will recycle your old filter, avoiding sending more trash to the landfill.

What happens to the spent filter at the recycler?

Recycling facilities are tasked with using all of the components and materials in the filter that can be put back into productive use. Doing this avoids dumping the materials and components in landfills.

So, how do they recycle your spent refrigerator filter? Let’s start with what is inside the filter.

Refrigerator filters consist of three main parts:

  1. plastic housing that contains the two filters
  2. particle filter that is usually made a paper or plastic fiber
  3. activated carbon filter

The recycler will cut the filter apart to remove the particle filter and the activated carbon media. They will then separate the components into various materials to be recycled or reused.

Re-using the spent carbon in your fridge filter

Activated carbon can easily be recycled. In fact, there’s an entire industry built around reusing and reactivating spent carbon.

The used carbon is sent to a reactivation facility where they expose it to high temperatures to drive off the contaminants. Once the carbon has been “cleaned”, they reactivate it through a process that uses high temperature steam to restore the media to new condition so it can be used again.

Some recycling centers ship the carbon to a waste-to-energy facility where it is burned to make electricity.

Recycling the plastic in your refrigerator filter

The plastic components in your filter can usually be recycled, depending on what type of plastic it is made of.

If it’s made of polyethylene or HDPE, the plastic can be shredded and then used to make new plastic products again.

If it’s made of vinyl or PVC, it can also be recycled, but there isn’t much of a market for these materials.

Despite these limitations, many recyclers have found ways to use the materials inside your spent filter. In some cases, they use the plastic as aggregate in another product. Sometimes, they send it to a waste-to-energy facility to be burned as fuel to make electricity.

Where used refrigerator filter components end up after recycling

  • Many plastic components are reused in consumer products
  • Metal parts (screws, retaining rings, miscellaneous parts) are removed and sent to scrap yards for reuse
  • Carbon is either reactivated to be reused or sent to power plants to make electricity
  • Transform recycled fibrous materials into products designed for consumer use
  • Part made of rubber such as O-rings and gaskets are recycled as consumer goods

Refrigerator Filter Recyling Options

If you want to recycle your refrigerator filter instead of throwing it away, you have several options. The following three options are good options.

Whatever option you choose, by recycling your spent fridge filter instead of throwing it away, you

1. Recycle used refrigerator filter with the manufacturer

You may also be able to mail it back to the manufacturer or find a recycling center that specializes in refrigerator filter recycling.

GE, Whirlpool, and other leading refrigerator brands provide instructions or even recycling kits to make it easy! Additionally, many offer an incentive bonus of a percentage off when you purchase another filter – incentivizing eco-friendly behavior that goes easy on your wallet, too.

2. Recycle used refrigerator filter with independent recycler

If your fridge manufacturer doesn’t have a recycling program, there are several independent recyclers that handle refrigerator filters.

Recyclewaterfilters is a good option for recycling your old refrigerator water filter. They accept water filter from the following manufacturers:

  • Samsung
  • Sears Kenmore Water Filters
  • Maytag Water Filters
  • GE Water Filters
  • Frigidaire PureSource and PureSource 2
  • Jenn Air Water Filters
  • Sub-Zero
  • Kitchen Aid Everydrop
  • LG Water Filters
  • Amana Water Filters
  • Whirlpool Water Filters

Ultimately, by recycling your spent fridge filter, you can help reduce landfill waste and make sure the materials in your filter are reused responsibly.

3. Recycle used refrigerator filter through local programs

Many local governments have a place to recycle your fridge filter. Check with your city or county government and see if they have a program in place for you to use.

Other Refrigerator Filter Disposal Options

Unfortunately, there really are only two options for dealing with spare refrigerator filters:

  1. throw the spent filter in the trash
  2. recycle the spent filter

The first disposal option for your spent refrigerator filter is to throw it away. As we discussed, this contributes to the problem of how we dispose of our trash and the limited space we have in our landfill.

The other option for your getting rid of your used fridge filter is recycling. In my opinion, recycling is the better option because it minimizes the quantity of trash that end up in landfills, and it allows the components that can be reused to put back into productive use.

If you want to take a more aggressive position, then keep reading because I have an innovative solution for you.

Using a Whole-House Filter in Place of Your Refrigerator Filter

Rather than using a refrigerator filter and having to deal with disposing of it, you can put in a whole house carbon filtration system. A whole house filter, also known as a point-of-entry filter, will treat all of the water that comes into your house.

I’d also recommend installing a particle filter to remove suspended solids and other particles in your water.

Installing these two filters (carbon and particle) will achieve the same thing that your refrigerator filter does. The advantage is that you’ll have clean water throughout your entire house rather than just the refrigerator. This gives you good tasting water for cooking, brushing your teeth, and everything else you use water for.

So, how do you use a POE carbon filter to replace your refrigerator filter? Simple.

Install a whole house particle filter and activated carbon filter on your main water line where it comes into your house.

You can do this as a do-it-yourself project or hire a professional. Either way, you’ll have chlorine-free water throughout your house for everything you need.

You’ll also need to bypass your refrigerator filter. There are two ways to do this, depending on which refrigerator you have.

Some fridges have a bypass valve that allows you to use the water dispenser and icemaker without a filter. Other refrigerators have a filter bypass plug that you install in place of the filter.

You’ll need to determine which method works for your refrigerator.

Read my related articles on using your refrigerator without the filter.
Refrigerator Filters – The Ultimate Guide
Can You Drink Water from Fridge Without Filter?
Can I Use My LG Refrigerator Without the Water Filter?
Can I Run My Samsung Refrigerator Without the Water Filter?

By putting in a whole house filter you purify the water that goes to your refrigerator, and you get all the benefits of having the refrigerator filter without the trouble and expense of having one.

What about the carbon and the particle filters for your whole house? These filters still have to be managed and replaced like your fridge filter.

However, because they’re larger, it’s much easier to recycle the materials. Let’s take a closer look.

The particle filters can either be disposable or a re-usable type. The re-usable filters can be cleaned and reused. I recommend buying this type of particle filter to reduce the lifetime costs of having it. This approach also improves your environmental footprint.

The POE carbon filter will allow you to remove the spent carbon and add fresh media yourself. You can recycle the spent carbon by sending it to a carbon recycling center. If you hire a professional to replace your spent carbon, they’ll send it to a reactivation facility for recycling.

Final take

So having a new refrigerator with a water filter is great. You have clean pure drinking water and nice clear ice, but when you replace the filter, you end up with an item that has to be disposed of. You have the option of throwing the used filter into the trash where it ends up in a landfill, or you can send it to a recycler.

By recycling your used refrigerator water filter, all of the materials are reused for some other beneficial use. This is a great way to deal with spent filters because it minimizes the impact you have on the environment. You can also install a whole house particle and carbon filter and completely eliminate the need for a refrigerator filter.

I hope you found this article interesting and useful.

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

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