What to Do With Old Refrigerator Water Filters

Appliance Express
August 12, 2019
Appliance Repair

If your refrigerator comes with a water dispensing function, then it also comes with a water filter. You will find that water from your refrigerator as opposed to straight from the tap tastes better, has less odor, and will almost never have any particles in it. This is all thanks to that handy hidden filter in your refrigerator.

Unfortunately, a water filter doesn’t last forever. The system that it uses is only meant to provide great filtration for six months. Leaving a filter in afterwards sees a significant drop in its filtration. For many newer models, they come with a display light to remind you to change your filter every six months. For higher-tech refrigerators, like the new Samsung models, they actually monitor the filtration depending on water usage so you know exactly when you need a new filter.

In most refrigerator models, because filter need to be changed occasionally, replacing them is a rather painless affair. The most difficult part usually is actually locating your water filter as it can differ between brands and even models of the same brand. However, the question that often remains unanswered is what to do with a water filter once you have removed it?

Recycling a Water Filter Through The Brand

The very simplest answer as to what to do with a water filter is to throw it away with the rest of the garbage. There are some manufacturers, like Samsung, who currently recommend you do just that. They maintain that the water filters are not harmful to the environment and can be safely disposed of this way. In some respects, that is true. There are no harmful chemicals in a water filter that might hurt the environment. The activated charcoal inside can even work to protect the environment in a landfill, although the small amount present is not likely to make a huge difference.

Yet, in other respects, this not quite true. Water filter housing and parts of its interior will sit in a landfill somewhere for 50 years or more. For those wondering what more than can do with their water filter, they could actually reap some benefits from recycling. There are manufacturers like GE or Whirlpool that feature options for recycling.

If you share the same responsibility for the environment as these manufacturers, you should look into their recycling options. Both GE and Whirlpool, which covers a large majority of refrigerator models, offer instructions or even recycling kits to help you navigate this process. You will want to look into manufacturer-lead water filter recycling programs first because there are some that do offer an incentive bonus percent off your next water filter purchase if you do choose to recycle, which is perhaps the nicest part as some filters can be quite expensive. In most cases, they will have you disassemble your water filter and you will be given prepaid packaging to send it in for recycling. This means that, no, there need not be a side trip to the recycling plant. You just need to put a package in the mail. From there, the casing will likely be pelletized or otherwise reused and the charcoal will be disposed of during your disassembly.

Recycling Through Third-Party Programs

Not all refrigerator manufacturers offer recycling programs for their water filters, and some that do may have too many hoops to jump through. Yet, for these instances, there are third-party programs that you can engage in to see your water filter properly disposed of.

One such program is the G2Rev program that will send you a water filter recycling kit with instructions. They will go through detailed instructions on how to disassemble the filter, clean it, and ask that it is left for three days to dry thoroughly before being mailed. The unfortunate caveat is that they do charge a small $8.99 fee. However, you do get to rest easy knowing that the filter is put to good use being repurposed as aggregate in concrete.

Another option is the Gimme 5 program. This recycling program that has partnered with Whole Foods makes things a little simpler. They allow you to either mail in or drop your water filters at your local Whole Foods. While this program is completely free (aside from shipping if you choose that route) they only accept water filters made from #5 plastics. These are the safest of the plastics for the environment, but they also happen to be the least recycled. That is what the Gimme 5 program is founded on, in hopes to increase that number. Of course, using this program still requires you to clean out the interior of the filter, but they also accept other items like toothbrushes as well.

Recycling Through Local Recycling Programs

All of the above options have their small caveats that make them less appealing than one would hope. Obviously, if you have recycling services in your area, it is best to use those. You will still want to break the filter open and remove the sand or charcoal from the inside, but otherwise, it can be disposed of in your recycling bin all the same. The only reason to use other methods if you have recycling pick up already is in cases where they may be offering a discount on your next water filter purchase. Occasionally manufacturers find it easy just to reuse the casings, so they want their casings sent directly back. A good way to ensure this is to offer discounts that should be taken advantage of.

If you do not have recycling pick-up, you always have the option of saving up your filters and other recyclables in order to deliver them directly to your local facility. Unfortunately, this is just one more chore that people forget about. After a year and a bag with just two water filters in it sitting in your garage, it may be more tempting just to put them in the trash bin. However, always remember that one trip to the trash bin means they will just sit somewhere else for the next few decades not doing anything.

For more information on how to dispose of water filters and how to replace them in your specific model of refrigerator, contact us today.


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