Air purifiers are becoming increasingly popular, but with clean air comes dirty HEPA filters.
Proper use and disposal of HEPA filters is essential for several reasons. Read on to learn which types of HEPA filters are recyclable and find out where you can properly dispose of them.
Are HEPA filters recyclable?
The short answer to this question is: sometimes.
Whether or not HEPA filters are recyclable depends on the exact type of filter and what the filter was cleaning during its lifespan. HEPA filters are carefully crafted to trap and eliminate airborne particles, helping to keep your environment safe and clean.
Although they can be cleaned (though not washed.), they must be replaced regularly for optimum performance. HEPA filters all do the same job, but they’re often made from synthetic fibers, metal mesh and paper.
This variability means that some types can be recycled, while others aren’t suitable for reprocessing.
✔️ Sometimes can be recycled: Paper and synthetic HEPA filters
These filters are recyclable, but with the caveat that they must be clean and haven’t come into contact with any toxic or hazardous materials.
For instance, if your filter has come into contact with chemicals, asbestos fibers, or any other dangerous materials, then recycling isn’t an option, as doing so poses environmental risks (as well as dangers to the people handling them).
❌ Never recycle: Metal mesh HEPA Filters
Metal wires tightly woven into a mesh are also a popular form of HEPA filters as they’re more durable than those made from other materials. However, due to their metal content, these filters are usually not recyclable and must be disposed of as electronic waste.
The main reason is that the metal in these filters is usually integrated throughout the body, so separating it for recycling is impossible.
How to dispose of HEPA filters
If you’ve determined that your HEPA filters aren’t recyclable, you’ll want to ensure you correctly dispose of them. There are a few different avenues to consider when figuring out where best to bring your old filters:
1. HEPA filter companies
A good first step is to contact the company from which you purchased the filter directly. Some HVAC companies and dedicated filter suppliers will offer services to dispose of the filters safely for you. They should be well aware of environmental regulations and safe disposal methods.
The first step is to check where your filter was purchased from. If this is your first filter, then it will be the air purifier company’s customer service department itself that you should contact. They might be able to advise you, and it’s always worth reaching out to find out.
If it’s a dedicated replacement filter company, they will be the ones to contact.
Not sure where your filter came from?
Check out our list of some of the most popular filter companies below. Even if your filter didn’t come from one of them, they might be able to help you dispose of the filter:
2. Go to local waste centers
Try contacting your local waste center or scrapyard. They can usually dispose of a wide array of waste types, so processing your used filters shouldn’t be too difficult. These centers can always point you in the right direction if they can’t.
📞 We recommend contacting them before you turn up with your filters.
Most of the time, a simple Google search (recycling center + YOUR LOCATION) will reveal your best local options. If that fails, contact your local county or municipality to determine your local recycling options.
-You can check out the I Want To Be Recycled website for more information.
–WM has hundreds of landfills across the U.S. where you can dispose of your trash, recycling and other junk.
–Republic Services provides a variety of disposal facility options.
3. Find a e-waste recycling center near you
If your town or city has a dedicated e-waste recycling center, this will be the ideal place to take your HEPA filters with metal mesh components.
These centers specialize in electronic waste and will be equipped to handle metallic fibers. It still makes sense to contact them before you turn up; however — it could save you a long drive if they don’t take filters.
Again, Google is your friend here. Failing that, the links above should also help you out. If you’re still struggling to find a good option, these manufacturers and retailers offer several options to donate or recycle electronics:
If all else fails, why not try Yelp.
4. Contact the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
If you’re unsure where to dispose of your used HEPA filters, contact the EPA.
The agency has a dedicated team of people named Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) who will happily offer expert guidance. They should be able to direct you to where you can dispose of your filters safely and responsibly.
The EPA has a hub on their site dedicating to sharing information about recycling, so make sure to check it out: https://www.epa.gov/recycle
The recyclability of your HEPA filter isn’t always straightforward and depends largely on the filter type and the materials it has been used to clean.
While paper and synthetic fiber filters are recyclable under certain conditions, those containing metal mesh components or filters exposed to hazardous materials can’t be recycled. As such, careful and proper disposal is essential.
You can consult the filter’s manufacturer, your local waste center, an e-waste recycling center, or the US EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) team to ensure appropriate disposal.