Coffee is a daily staple for millions of people. The caffeinated beverage gives you a morning pickup and keeps you going throughout the day.
Americans consume around 400 million cups of coffee daily and go through the same number of filters on average. It works out to a lot of coffee filters going into landfills.
What about using a more sustainable disposal method? Can you compost coffee filters? The answer is usually yes, but there are exceptions.
Can You Put Coffee Filters in Compost?
You can compost coffee filters, as long as it’s made from paper. When it comes to composting coffee filters made from materials like linen, it’s best to keep them out of your compost.
Some paper coffee filters are treated with bleach. The chemical ensures the filters brilliantly white out of the packaging. Typically, you want to keep bleach and other chemicals away from organic compost.
However, it’s usually not a problem with coffee filters. The amount of bleach used to whiten the filters is minimal and isn’t going to harm the compost.
Composting coffee filters does more than keep them out of landfills. The paper filters are high in carbon, which is essential for healthy compost piles.
Surprisingly, adding coffee filters to compost can also reduce odors. The carbon contained in the paper works to neutralize bad smells.
How to Compost Coffee Filters in Four Easy Steps
Composting coffee filters only requires four simple steps. The process is the same for hot and cold compost piles.
Step 1: Remove the Filter but Keep the Coffee Grounds
You can toss the coffee grounds in compost, along with the filter. The grounds are high in nitrogen and will help balance the carbon in the filter. Both are necessary for healthy compost, and your garden plants also appreciate the nutrients.
Don’t forget to put the coffee grounds in the green composting layer. The coffee filters go in the brown layer.
Step 2: Tear the Coffee Filters into Pieces
It takes paper coffee filters several months to decompose in compost. You can speed the process up by tearing the filters into smaller pieces.
You can rip the filter as soon as your coffee finishes brewing but be careful. The paper filter may be hot.
It’s a good idea to wait until the coffee filter cools down. Paper is easier to tear when it’s wet, but you may also burn your hands. A pair of scissors will easily shred the filter, even when it’s dry.
Step 3: Add the Coffee Filters to the Compost in Stages
Some people save their coffee filters for a few days, limiting their trips to their compost piles. Other composters put their coffee filters in the pile daily, and either method works great.
What you don’t want to do is add a clump of shredded coffee filters to the compost at one time. It slows down decomposition and can potentially ruin the pile. You also want to follow the same guidelines for coffee grounds.
Step 4: Don’t Forget to Add Moisture and Oxygen to the Compost
A healthy compost pile has four ingredients. Green and brown layers, along with moisture and oxygen. Coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, and plant materials go in the green layers, while twigs, leaves, and coffee filters are in the brown layers.
Don’t forget to alternate the layers. It’s key for a healthy compost pile.
Every time you add a layer to the compost, the pile requires moisture and oxygen. Wet coffee grinds usually take care of the moisture requirements.
If the pile is still dry, go ahead and add a little water. Your garden hose works great. Aerating the pile adds oxygen. Don’t worry, it’s not something you do by hand. Grab a rake or pitchfork.
These garden tools are great for flipping active compost piles. It’s a good idea to aerate the pile every few days whenever you add another layer.
How Long Does It Take For Coffee Filters to Decompose in Compost?
Paper coffee filters take a while to decompose in compost. How long the paper stays in the compost depends on a few factors.
The type of filter plays a role in decomposition rates. Thinner coffee filters break down faster than thicker ones. The time of the year and type of composting pile also affect decomposition times.
Coffee filters in hot compost piles will break down faster than with cold composting. The filters also decompose more quickly in the summer than in the winter.
The primary reason for the varying decomposition rates is temperature. The microbes responsible for breaking down materials in compost thrive in warmer temperatures.
Ideally, you want to keep the internal temperature in an active compost pile between 135° -160° Fahrenheit.
On average, it takes coffee filters around six to eight months to fully decompose in an active compost heap.
How to Recycle Used Coffee Filters
Some people prefer to keep their coffee filters and grounds out of their compost piles due to acidity concerns.
If you are worried the filters may upset the pH balance in your compost pile, there are other ways you can recycle them.
Thicker coffee filters are often reusable. It means less waste going into landfills. You can also use the filters to prevent garden weeds from growing. Placing the filter over the weeds blocks sunlight, effectively stopping their growth.
They also have an extra bonus. Coffee filters also add nitrogen and carbon to the soil.
Try using coffee filters to clean windows, mirrors, and other glass surfaces. They are a great substitution for paper towels.
Not only are you reducing the amount of paper you throw away, but you are also saving money by spending less on replacement towels.
You can compost coffee filters. It’s a great way to add nutrients to your compost and reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.
Don’t forget to put your coffee filters in the brown composting layer. If you are saving your coffee grounds, they go in the green layer.
Composting coffee filters is sustainable and a great way to add nutrients to your plants.