Tap Filter Makers Face Pressure to Recycle

Oct. 8, 2008
Municipal waste systems in the U.S. not equipped to recycle tap water filters

While tap water filter brands like Brita and PUR have benefited by the environmental campaign against plastic bottled water, those companies have recently been facing increasing pressure to recycle their filters, the New York Times reported.

In some countries, used filters can be dropped off in stores or returned to the manufacturers, but the filters cannot be recycled in the U.S.

“In order to give up bottled water, you have to switch to another plastic product that’s not recyclable,” Beth Terry of Oakland, Calif., told the newspaper.

Terry set up www.takebackthefilter.org in April, and has collected more than 15,000 signatures for a petition to try to persuade Clorox, the company that owns Brita, to begin recycling filters. She has also collected more than 374 Brita filters for recycling.

Municipal waste systems in the U.S are not equipped to recycle the filters, a situation that Clorox is trying to address, according to a letter from Donald R. Knauss, chief executive of Clorox, to a member of Terry’s group, the newspaper reported.

According to Drew McGowan, a Clorox spokesman, the cost of a recycling program would be “absolutely astronomical, and there’s no way any one company can afford to do this.” Yet a test program may begin within the next year that will let people return filters to retail stores, McGowan said.

According to Joe E. Heimlich, professor of natural resources and environmental science at Ohio State University, water filters are not as big an environmental problem as water bottles.

“The water filter is a minuscule bit of waste,” Heimlich said. “Even if everyone was using them it would be a minor part of what goes in landfills. Bottled water has a much greater ecological footprint.”

Source: New York Times