The answer to this question is yes, air filters can be recycled, but the process is not as straightforward as simply throwing the filter into the recycle bin. The frame of a filter consists of recyclable material, but the filter itself can consist of several types of material, ranging from fiberglass, wire mesh, paper and plastic. Non-recyclable materials in an air filter can contaminate a batch of recyclable materials and complicate the process. The short answer to this question is that it depends on the type of air filter you have. A typical disposable HVAC filter is made with woven fibers, most commonly polyester or fiberglass, which are not recyclable.
When it comes to dealing with air filters, it is also important to consider your health. These filters can expose you to dust, dirt, and even potentially harmful chemicals. As such, most cities don't accept them as recycling, but instead have to throw them away. Can a domestic air filter really be recycled? The answer is that it depends on the type of filter your air conditioner has. Most households use the disposable type made with woven fibers such as fiberglass or polyester, which cannot be recycled.
Disposable filters do their job by trapping dust, dirt, and other small particles that can be harmful to a person's health. But once they get dirty, it's not possible to simply wash and reuse them once more. It's not healthy or safe to use them again. Air filters contain fiberglass, which cannot be recycled. So can air filters be recycled? If you talk strictly about the recycling policies of the city or county, the answer is almost always no. Oven filters and air conditioning filters are on the “do not recycle” list in most cases, along with televisions and other appliances.
However, just as there are special entities that can recycle electronic devices in a safe and environmentally friendly way, there are also paths you can take to recycle used air filters. Unfortunately, oven filters are made of non-recyclable materials such as polyester and fiberglass, and only some small parts are recyclable. However, the remaining materials can be recycled such as cardboard and plastic. Recycling services do not accept used air filters statewide, so these items must be disposed of in the trash. Keep in mind that this means placing the entire air filter in the trash, even the cardboard frame, even though like cardboard it could theoretically be recycled. Contact your filter supplier and ask if the local recycling branch is able to dispose of the filters.
However, the air filter recycling process is more complicated than simply throwing old air filters in the bin. Made of various materials, air filters and ovens can cause an unsettling amount of confusion regarding recycling. In addition to the carbon footprint it releases outdoors, disposable air filters are another form of waste product. Warning however these types of filters are not recommended for people with asthma, allergies and other health problems that require absolutely no exposure to high levels of pollution or airborne pathogens. Instead of leaving your system unprotected replace the filter with a new one right away to ensure that the air intake vent remains fully protected at all times. Changing filters every three months while it may seem like a waste is the best practice to ensure an efficient system and protect air quality throughout your home or business. However once you change the air filter the old oven air filter can release dirt and debris into the air in your home which could lower indoor air quality.
Have a plastic bag ready when you are going to change the air filter and immediately place the old filter in this bag when you remove it from your oven or intake vent. For all these reasons when an HVAC filter arrives at the recycling center you can safely assume that they won't know what to do with it better than you do. Recycling air filters is a little more complicated than simply putting them in with your weekly cardboard collection.