Are Coffee Filters Compostable?

are coffee filters compostable
Coffee filters are compostable. Coffee filters are paper products making them a god carbon-rich source for your compost. Unbleached or brown coffee filters are the best options for composting because they lack toxic chemicals, unlike the bleached version. 

The average household with a coffee maker uses at least one coffee filter daily, while the more frequent drinkers throw away two or three filters a day.

We know the benefits of using coffee grounds for compost, but what about the filters?

It’s about time we stopped piling up non-reusable filters in landfills and learned how to properly dispose of them as a step toward sustainable living.

What Types of Coffee Filters to Compost?

Brown (unbleached) and Chemex coffee filters are suitable for composting.

Did you know that coffee filters can make a difference in how your coffee tastes?

As a result, filter manufacturers come up with different material varieties that are also compostable, including:

  • Paper coffee filters
  • Plastic coating filter
  • Chemex coffee filters

1. Paper Coffee Filters

Many caffeine addicts favor paper filters because they prevent ground coffee’s silt and oily components from leaching into their drinks.

Manufacturers use wood pulp from trees to produce two types of paper coffee filters, including:

  • Bleached filters
  • Unbleached coffee filters

You should avoid decomposing bleached filters in your compost bin because they contain dioxins that disrupt the chemical composition of your pile.

Unbleached coffee filters are brown and have a slightly better environmental impact than the bleached options because they require less processing.

Brown paper products are better compostable materials since they lack chemicals like bleach that can harm your compost heap. 

2. Plastic Coating Filter

These are typical paper filters with a plastic coating that you can reuse to make another cup of coffee.

This reusable filter is unsuitable for composting due to the plastic lining despite having paper material. So, scrape out all the remaining particles before washing the filter while dumping your used coffee grounds into the compost bin. 

3. Chemex Coffee Filters

Chemex coffee filters are a thicker version of the standard paper filters. This filter option holds back even the finest coffee grounds from passing through into your drink and produces coffee with less acidity than other materials. 

Chemex filters are also suitable compost materials because they’re made of paper and have no chemicals like bleached filters.

Even so, you cannot reuse or recycle Chemex filters since they’re produced exclusively for one-time use. Instead, you can add them to your compost bin because they quickly break down into organic matter.

How to Compost Coffee Filters

1. Gather Your Used Filters 

Collect all your used paper filters and the old coffee grounds and separate the two substances. 

2. Save the Coffee Grounds

Don’t throw away the coffee grounds because they’re a rich source of nutrients for your garden and plants.

3. Shred the Paper Filter

Cut or shred the paper filters into smaller pieces. Composting the entire filter would take longer to decompose and thus, needs breaking down into manageable sizes. 

4. Add Organic Matter to the Compost

Your compost cannot comprise paper coffee filters alone; you need to add organic matter to make the decomposition more efficient.

5. Mix the Shredded Filter With Mulch (Optional)

You can choose to mix the shredded filters and coffee grounds with mulch creating a conducive environment for worms.

These worms help speed up the decomposition process. 

6. Add the Shredded Filters in Small Amounts

You can’t add the entire coffee mixture to your compost bin at once because it requires uniform decomposition. 

7. Mix Everything Up

Use a pitchfork to mix all the ingredients and balance all the substances uniformly throughout the compost heap. 

8. Wet the Compost

If your compost is dry, you must add water to provide moisture for the microorganisms involved in the process. 

9. Add Worms to the Compost (Optional)

You can add worms because these critters are big fans of coffee and leave behind droppings.

These droppings become natural fertilizers for your plants and promote healthy growth. 

10. Regularly Turn Your Compost Heap

Remember to turn your compost heap weekly to encourage sufficient air circulation and decomposition throughout the entire heap. 

How Long Does It Take for Coffee Filters to Decompose?

Coffee filters take about 6 to 8 months to break down into finished compost completely, depending on the factors that affect the decomposition process, including:

  • Types of coffee filters 
  • Temperature of the pile
  • Manufacture dates
  • Humidity
  • Time of the year

Can You Recycle Coffee Filters?

No, used coffee filters are not recyclable. You can always add them to your compost along with the used coffee grounds. The filters are a good carbon-rich source for your compost, while the grounds provide nitrogen to the compost microbes. 

On the other hand, you shouldn’t throw plastic coating or metal filters into your compost bin because while plastics non-biodegradable, metal takes years to break down. 


Discovering composting as a way of life or even better, as nature’s way of recycling, Ana dedicates her time to trying out new methods of composting at home. Her goal is to share everything that she’s learned in the hopes that it will help others discover the amazing rewards of composting.

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