Air filters don’t last forever. Over time, the air filter in your heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system will accumulate so much debris that it restricts airflow. Air will then struggle to blow through the ductwork and, thus, circulate throughout your home. When changing your HVAC system’s old air filter, though, you might be wondering whether they are recyclable.
Some Air Filters Are Made of a Recyclable Material
Depending on the type of air filter installed in your HVAC system, it may be made of a recyclable material. Air filters are available in a variety of materials, some of which are recyclable.
Fiberglass is commonly used to make air filters. Fiberglass air filters consist of pleated mesh-like pads that contain many small strands of glass. You can also find air filters made of polyester. Polyester air filters look like fiberglass filters. Rather than glass strands, however, polyester air filters contain polyester fibers.
Fiberglass is not classified as a recyclable material. The glass strands found in fiberglass will break during the recycling process. Polyester can’t be easily recycled, either. Polyester is a synthetic material that’s difficult to recycle. Only air filters made of a paper-based material can be recycled.
Why You Shouldn’t Try to Recycle Old Air Filters
You should typically dispose of old air filters rather than trying to recyclable them. Even if you have an air filter that’s made entirely of pleated paper or cardboard, it may not be recyclable.
Air filters will inevitably become dirty. After all, they are designed specifically to remove particulate matter from the air. Old air filters may have so much particular matter on them that they can no longer be recycled.
You can dispose of old air filters, of course, rather than trying to recycle them. After removing an old air filter from your furnace or Air Handling Unit (AHU), place it inside of a trash bag. Immediately placing the old air filter in a trash bag will prevent loose dust or debris from being released back into your home.
If you’re looking to reduce waste, you can choose a reusable air filter for your HVAC system. Reusable air filters are characterized by a washable construction. They are interchangeable with most traditional air filters. While traditional air filters are disposable, reusable air filters are not. You can wash them to remove the particulate matter, after which you can place them back inside of your furnace or AHU.