I learned something today... and on Facebook, of all places! This program started a year ago today, so I can't believe that this is the first I've heard about it... but it is now possible to recycle Brita filters in the U.S.! This has long been available in Europe, and now Brita has teamed up with Preserve, a company that manufactures household items out of 100% recycled materials, to separate the plastic from the carbon particles and find new uses for both. The program is called Gimme 5, in reference to the #5 (polypropylene) plastic that is used to make Brita filters. Although Chicago does accept polypropylene plastics in their single-stream recycling bins, many cities do not.
To recycle these filters, Preserve asks that we set the spent filters aside and let them dry for a minimum of three days, then wrap them in a plastic grocery bag (don't worry, they'll recycle that, too!). From there, consumers can either take the filters to a designated drop-off location (the link is down at the moment, but I know many Whole Food stores in the area will accept these filters), or-- if there isn't a drop-off location nearby-- save up a few filters, pack them in a (recyclable) box, and mail them into the company at:
Preserve Gimme 5
823 NYS Rte 13
Cortland, NY 13045
The only downfall is that the customer is responsible for the shipping costs. However, John Lively, director of environment and material science for Preserve, assures skeptics that, "we calculated that the benefits of keeping Brita filters out of landfills outweigh the impact of shipping them for recycling through this program." Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club applaud Brita's efforts to expand on their "Filter for Good" campaign, which launched in 2007, and encourages people to ditch bottled water and drink filtered tap water instead. So I'll give three cheers to Clorox (the parent company of Brita) for setting an example for other large corporations by putting a portion of their profits toward fighting the good fight. Hip, hip, HOORAY!