With so many tons of disposable plastic being sent to landfills these days, six ounces doesn’t seem like a lot. Especially when you’ve bailed on bottled water in favor of a Brita pitcher and reusable bottle. But don’t you still hate throwing out that filter every three months?
Beth Terry does. She wrote in her blog Fake Plastic Fish about her frustration at being unable to recycle her Brita filter cartridges, and discovered she was far from alone. Terry then joined with other activists to start TakeBackTheFilter.org, a movement to pressure the Clorox Co., which owns Brita North America, to implement a filter take-back and recycling program. A separate European Brita company has recycled filters since 1992.
Take Back the Filter has gotten more than 13,000 signatures on its petition to Clorox and is collecting used filters from all over North America to send to Clorox as a visual reminder of the problem. “We want to work with Clorox, but Clorox’s steps in the next months will determine how that goes,” says Terry.
Clorox seems to be slowly waking up to the issue. Brita representative Drew McGowan said that the company is now exploring the financial, logistical, and environmental viability of cartridge take-back programs, but that it’s taking time to find the right recycling solution, one that will provide a net environmental gain. “We know it’s very important to our customers, to our retailers, and to us,” he said. Yet he acknowledged that recyclable filters could still be a year or two away, noting that a new filter design would need to be approved by the Water Quality Association and the National Sanitation Foundation.
“However, we’re committed to really looking into it and are working with Sierra Club, discussing the best way to do it,” McGowan continued.
Orli Cotel of the Sierra Club confirmed the Club’s involvement in finding an acceptable end-of-life solution for Brita filters, stating that discussions are still in the preliminary stages but that the Sierra Club is excited by this opportunity. “Brita is looking for solutions and we’re happy to be working with them,” she said. “We’re interested in helping move companies in the right direction.”
The Sierra Club has collaborated with the Clorox Co. previously, on its Green Works line of natural cleaning products.
You can find the Take Back the Filter petition here and mail used Brita filters to:
Take Back The Filter
5245 College Avenue, Box #815
Oakland, CA 94618
Get Grist in your inbox