close mobile menuClose Menu


  • Are Air Conditioning Filters Recyclable?


  • Are Air Conditioning Filters Recyclable?

    July 1, 2020

    Your air conditioner keeps your home comfortable. Your air conditioning filter also plays an important part in keeping your indoor air clean and healthy for your family. It’s important to change your air conditioning filter regularly. Experts recommend every month during seasons of heavy use and every 2-3 months in seasons of low use.

    This means that we may go through up to ten filters a year. For those of us who are more environmentally conscious, we may worry about the potential impact of all that plastic waste. Do air conditioning filters end up in landfills? How quickly are they broken down? Can they be recycled?

    Generally, most air conditioning filters are not recyclable. Let us explain why air conditioning filters are not recyclable and explore alternatives to recycling A/C filters.

    Why Air Conditioning Filters Are Not Recyclable

    Most air conditioning filters are made with fiberglass and polyester fibers. These are woven to create a tight filter that stops contaminants from reaching the air conditioner’s fans and motor. These contaminants include dust, dirt, pet dander, grease, harmful chemicals, and particles. Most recycling centers won’t even accept a greasy pizza box, much less a dusty, dirty filter. It’s better to place your used filters in the trash. However, you may want to call your city’s recycling center to check. This is also why regular cooling system maintenance is a must.

    Eco-Friendly Options

    When we were children, we learned about the 3 R’s of being environmentally friendly. These are Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. As we previously covered, recycling your air conditioning filters isn’t the best way to save the environment. Additionally, reducing the number of filters you use isn’t a great idea either. If you avoid regularly changing your filters as a means of reducing waste, you could damage your air conditioning unit and have to replace the entire unit sooner.

    Rather than reducing or recycling their filters, the better option for environmentally-conscious homeowners is to explore washable air conditioning filters. While most air conditioning filters are one-time use, washable filters can be cleaned and dried to prevent waste and last up to five years. Washable filters can save homeowners money over the lifetime of their HVAC unit. However, some homeowners do not like the amount of time it takes to properly uninstall, scrub, wash, and dry these washable filters. It’s important to give each of those steps the time they deserve… Inadequately drying your washable filter could lead to mold and bacteria growth in your A/C unit.

    Additionally, many homeowners find that washable filters aren’t as effective as their disposable counterparts. As you may have learned in our previous post about how filters are rated, most air filters are rated on a MERV scale. MERV, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value measures the minimum efficiency of a filter. Washable filters are usually rated between a 1 and 4 on the MERV scale. Disposable filters usually rank between a 4 and a 12. The lower the efficiency, the more particulates that could possibly reach the mechanic components of your A/C and cause damage. This could lead to you throwing out your A/C unit and replacing it with a newer model sooner, which isn’t good for the environment.

    And a side note, there are hundreds of ways to be more environmentally friendly in your home. To name a few:

    • Shutting off lights in rooms you aren’t using
    • Adjusting your A/C/Furnace a few notches
    • Switching to energy-efficient bulbs
    • Reduce water consumption and water waste
    • Using reusable glass plates and drinkware instead of paper and plastic items
    • Cancel any unnecessary mail like junk mail
    • Repair broken materials instead of throwing them out
    • Take care of the items you have

    That being said, if you’re worried about being environmentally-friendly, it might be better to use efficient filters that take care of your air conditioning unit. This will cut down the energy your AC unit needs to operate and make sure your A/C doesn’t end up in a landfill prematurely. High-efficiency filters are usually sold as disposable filters.

    Disposable Filters

    If air quality is a concern, traditional disposable filters are far better than washable filters at keeping dust, smoke, pet dander, and other airborne contaminants from reaching the mechanical components on your A/C and your home’s air.

    J.A. Bertsch

    J.A. Bertsch Heating & Cooling offers professional residential air conditioning services throughout Kootenai County. Our licensed A/C technicians cover all of North Idaho and our neighboring cities. Experience superior, award-winning service 24/7. Call us at 208-635-5480 to schedule an appointment.