Refrigerator Water Filters – NOT Recyclable?

By Steve Schaefer


water filter-3

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 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


17 thoughts on “Refrigerator Water Filters – NOT Recyclable?

  1. Thank you for writing this article. I now understand why I have not been able to find any information on how to recycle my used water filters. Currently, I am collecting the used filters under my sink since I have not been able to bring myself to throw them away yet.


  2. I too had a similar journey trying to find where to recycle my used water filter. May 2020 bring on a renewed perspective by the manufacturers … forever hopeful.


  3. Same story… just changed my refrigerator water filter (Kenmore) and took to the internet for recycling answers… there are none. I also just received an Aquagear pitcher (w/filter) and it came with a bag and instructions to retrieve a prepaid-postage return label to recycle its filter. All I can offer is the opportunity to switch your water filtering needs to a company that is being proactive with filter recycling. Good luck and I also hope that we humans get better at this!


  4. That website looks sketchy to me. I think you’re paying them that fee (plus the postage) so that they can then just chuck it in a landfill.


  5. My story is the same. These large corporations don’t mind sucking us into providing them with an endless, expensive income stream, but they take no responsibility for the junk they leave with us to dispose of. The government, who wants us to be green, responsible citizens, should step in and make the companies provide us with easy to find recycling options. Sadly, however, they don’t and do not seem to care.


  6. I’m in the exact same boat — I emailed everydropwater and they said that the plastic is recyclable (#5) but did not give any hints on how to empty out the contents of the filter. Very frustrating


  7. I’m in the same situation. Used water filter in hand and no place to recycle it. The thought of throwing away one more sizable hunk of plastic makes me sick. Why can’t these things be reusable? Let me guess, corporate profits once again trump the environment. I’m going to find a way to wean myself from disposable water filters.


  8. Thanks for trying. And thanks to everyone who commented. I can’t believe these companies don’t care to figure out how to help negate the harm they do, especially when people are willing to recycle. All they have to do is tell us what to do!


  9. The municipalities across the United States emphasize recycling, but give you no options for some items that I have in storage. I have 2 used fire extinguishers, a metal lamp stand, 1 water filter, and several pieces of scrap metal (worth $); however, all the recycling places won’t take the items. Fire departments don’t want the fire extinguishers. Fire extinguish companies who make fire extinguishers don’t want used extinguishers. I am going to give up soon and hide all this stuff in my trash because I don’t have the room for these items or the time to waste anymore looking for a recycling provider.


  10. I have the same problem now. don’t understand why they don’t provide a program.Besides, recycle in china is free. However, you need to pay for recycling in USA in most of times. This doesn’t prevent people to reduce consumption, this would just let people give up recycling. Current short solution, I would break the filter, recycle the plastic , then dump the filter core. they are activated carbon in most times.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s