By Steve Schaefer
On January 1st, I finally got around to changing the water filter in my Kenmore refrigerator. As I set the old one down on the kitchen counter, I wondered how I could recycle it. After, all, it’s an 11.5-inch long blue plastic tube, and why should it end up in a landfill?
I looked over the printed materials that came with the replacement filter, and studied every inch of the filter itself and found nothing about recycling. So, I went onto Google. There I was offered information on a recycling program that was started in 2014. A ha! I found a mention of a kit you could use to bag up the filter and send it in.
But clicking the link to order the kit, I got a message that contained this:
“The Whirlpool Water Filter Recycling Program has ended and is no longer available.”
I saw an email link to everydropwater.com and sent of a request for more information. I received a prompt email reply from Heather, an e-Solutions Specialist, who thanked me for contacting them (they “appreciated hearing from me”).
However, she explained that “the filter recycle program was rarely used, therefore it was shut down.”
She apologized for the inconvenience.
What next? I tried Waste Management, my local garbage and recycling company.
I got a reply from LaKeisha in Customer Service. The gist of her message, other than apologizing for being unable to help me, was that Waste Management doesn’t recycle refrigerator filters. She then said:
“We truly appreciate your business and allowing us to meet your waste service needs.”
Sadly, they didn’t.
I emailed the sustainability group at my office–volunteers who think about these issues. I also checked online some more. One post suggested opening the filter (somehow), then putting the contents in your garden (is this a good idea?) and then washing the plastic case and placing it in your normal recycling bin, if your company accepts it. I’ll figured I could try that, but if it’s this difficult to recycle these filters, then it’s no surprise that few folks bother to do it.
I attempted to open the plastic case using a big wrench from my toolbox but it didn’t budge. I decided not to proceed with trying to saw it open. For now, I’m keeping the filter around while I plan my next step.
I’ll explore this issue further and will report back any findings. If you have any suggestions, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.