Can I Compost Coffee Filters?
If you’re wondering whether you can compost coffee filters, the short answer is YES as long as they are the regular old paper filters. Most paper products are fine for composting.
I also surveyed my sustainable living Facebook group to see what they thought about composting coffee filters. 89% said that yes, they do compost their filters. Of those that said they don’t, the only reason given from one person was that they had heard they were not supposed to put them in the compost. (This could be a rule in certain communities that collect curbside food scraps for composting, but I have never read anything saying coffee filters shouldn’t be composted.)
What if they are bleached?
Bleached paper products today are supposed to be much safer than the bleached paper from 20-30 years ago. Personally though, I think it’s always safest to use unbleached brown filters if you can get them, since you will be drinking liquid that’s been strained through it. If you use cone-style filters that have a heat-sealed edge, there is the possibility that a synthetic material is used on that edge. If you are concerned, you could cut that part off before composting. Or look for filters like Melitta brand that are labelled compostable and you should be safe.
What about the coffee grounds?
Definitely compost those too! They are high in nitrogen, which your compost pile needs. Coffee grounds are quite acidic before brewing, but afterwards they aren’t terribly acidic anymore, so no worries.
Do coffee filters break down well?
I’ve never had any problem with them. I’ve heard that if you let them dry out they can become tougher to break down, but when I dump out my finished compost, I never find any whole coffee filters left, and we make coffee every day. They seem to disintegrate quickly if your pile is active with critters and worms and kept moist.
Wouldn’t it be less wasteful to just use no filter?
There are many people who use a reusable metal filter, or make espresso style coffee, French press or cold brew with no filter at all. This clearly creates less waste. Just be aware that there are chemicals in coffee oils that have been shown to raise your cholesterol and increase your chances of having a heart attack. Those oils and chemicals are soaked up by the paper filter, which studies have argued makes filtered coffee healthier to drink. I also find that unfiltered coffee is more likely to give me heartburn, so I am sticking with the paper filter.
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