Are Coffee Filters Compostable? See What is Biodegradable and What Isn’t

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These days, being environmentally-conscious is the norm, as more and more people have become aware of the challenges we face as a planet. So it makes sense that you have many questions about items in your daily life, that a generation or two ago, people might not have given much thought to, such as “Are coffee filters compostable?”

So let’s answer the question generally and then get into specifics about the various types of coffee filters and whether they are biodegradable or not.

And before we go on, thank you for being concerned about the environment! If you make coffee every day like I do, often twice per day, you can easily use 500 or more coffee filters in a year.

Are Coffee Filters Compostable?

You might be considering switching to a permanent coffee filter that is designed to be used over and over again, thinking that this would be better for the environment. You can rest assured knowing that paper filters are indeed compostable.

In fact, if you are concerned about the quality of your cup of coffee, you should also know that paper filters are preferable because they do a better job of removing the particulates that can lend a bitter taste to your coffee. Thus, paper filters produce smoother-tasting coffee.

In addition, with a paper filter you can use a wide range of grind coarseness, giving you more control over your brewing. With the permanent filters you must only use a coarser grind. A finer grind can give you coffee that tastes stronger or with more richness and depth to it than when you use a coarse grind. This is because there is more surface area exposed to the water during the brewing process.

If you want to know more about brewing the perfect coffee, check out our article on SCAA-approved coffee makers. 

Did you know that coffee has been linked to increased levels of cholesterol? Yes, higher levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol, is linked to coffee! This is because of the oils in a cup of coffee. With a paper filter you are better able to trap those oils before they get into your drink. With the permanent filters, the ones with a metal mesh basket, the oils do not get trapped and they go straight into your beverage.

As long as there isn’t any kind of plastic lining in the paper filter, you can compost it.

Did you know that there are certain garden plants that like coffee grounds? It’s because they like their soil to be on the acidic side, and coffee grounds provide this. These plants include hydrangeas, lilies, azaleas, and blueberries. You can mix the grounds in with the soil.

Are Chemex Filters Compostable?

Chemex coffee filters ARE compostable. Here is what the manufacturer says on their website: 

Our filters are biodegradable and compostable. Many of our employees (and customers) compost them for use in their gardens!  We can say from personal experience that brewed CHEMEX filters and coffee grounds work wonders in a compost pile.

In fact, not only are Chemex filters biodegradable, their business practices are geared toward sustainability with their sourcing of paper from responsibly harvested trees to their recycling of all paper scraps that result from their manufacturing process.

Are Brown Coffee Filters Compostable?

YES, brown coffee filters are compostable. It does not matter what color the coffee filter is, you can still put it into your compost as long as there is no plastic lining.

Are Unbleached Coffee Filters Compostable?

YES, unbleached coffee filters are compostable. Throw them into your compost bin or your trash service’s green bin.

Are Melitta Coffee Filters Compostable?

YES, Melitta filters are compostable. Here is what they say on their website: “Paper filters are 100% biodegradable while permanent filters are not.”

Wrap Up

The question about whether coffee filters are biodegradable or compostable is asked by so many of our readers that we decided to write this definitive article to answer these questions. No matter if you are talking about brown coffee filters, unbleached ones, Chemex or Melitta filters, or regular white paper ones, they can all be composted. In addition to being environmentally sound (as long as you’re buying from a company with sustainable practices), paper coffee filters also give you some benefits in terms of the brew quality of your coffee.

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