Are Coffee Filters Compostable?

A coffee filter is a daily use item for many people. After a fresh brewed pot of coffee is made, the soggy filter containing the messy grounds is commonly tossed into the trash.

Instead of sending the filter off to the landfill, wouldn’t it be nice to use it for a better purpose? What about composting it? Let’s take a look at the potential of coffee filters being used as a compost material. 

Composting Coffee Grounds

Before we get into coffee filter composting, we should discuss if the grounds are compostable. After all, the filter will at least have some residue of grounds on it. Furthermore, we would suspect that most people would prefer to compost both the lump of grounds and the filter together. 

The goods news is that coffee grounds can be composted. According to Oregon State University Extension, the grounds provide approximately two percent nitrogen by volume and generally have a pH close to neutral at around 6.7.

The claim that coffee grounds are acidic and bad for compost is false. Most of the acid leaves the grounds as water runs through them to create coffee. It’s the coffee lovers that consume a lot of this acid as they enjoy their daily cup of joe. As states, the coffee beans release acid into the cup of coffee giving it an acidic pH level of 4.85 to 5.10. 

It should be noted that in no circumstance should you use raw grounds as compost. By raw, we mean coffee grounds that are straight from the Folgers can, for example, that haven’t been used to make coffee. These raw grounds are much to acidic and nitrogen rich for use as compost.  

It is the nitrogen of coffee grounds used in a coffee machine that is extremely beneficial to compost. It provides important macronutrients that immensely help with the growth and greening of plants. 

You can use up to 20 percent of coffee grounds for the total compost volume. A pile consisting of 30 percent or more of grounds is often cited as being detrimental. Spread the grounds evenly over the pile and avoid piling them too high. We recommend no more than a half inch height of grounds. 


Composting Coffee Filters 

Yes, you can compost coffee filters. They can be used as a carbon material in your compost pile similar to dry leaves, shredded paper, and clean paper towel. Oregon State University Extension recommends breaking down the filters into small pieces to decrease the decomposition time. If you opt not to rip them up, place the filters in the center of the pile for the best results. Be warned that you may end up with uncomposted filters if you choose not to tear them up before placing them in the pile. 

You should know what the coffee filters are made of before composting them. Do not compost filters that contain material that should not be composted such as plastic or metal. We recommend using unbleached and 100% chlorine-free coffee filters if you plan to routinely compost them. These filters will provide the most natural material that you can feel safe using in your environment. This is especially true if the compost is being used in an organic vegetable garden. 

The below California Containers natural unbleached coffee filters are an excellent choice for composting. The manufacturer specifically indicates that the filters are 100% biodegradable and compostable. Even if you plan to send your coffee filters to the landfill, these are the best for the environment. They certainly won’t sit for years upon years wasting space and polluting the world around them. 

Coffee Filters - Natural Unbleached Brown Biodegradable - Large Basket - 9.75' Flattened Diameter - 4.25' Diameter Base - by California Containers (200 Count)
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Coffee Filters - Natural Unbleached Brown Biodegradable - Large Basket - 9.75" Flattened Diameter - 4.25" Diameter Base - by California Containers (200 Count)
  • ECO-FRIENDLY - These coffee filters are made from unbleached paper that is 100% biodegradable and compostable. Do the earth a solid by using these filters for your morning cup.
  • LARGE BASKET - These filters are for large basket coffee makers. The filters are 9.75" diameter when flattened. The base when unflattened is 4.5" diameter.
  • HEALTHY CHOICE - This product is made using no harsh chemicals or bleach, a compound which is toxic to humans. Rest assured that your coffee will be free of harmful chemicals, unlike when using competitors' filters.
  • DURABLE - These coffee filters won't disintegrate when wet. This is a quality product.
  • FUNCTIONAL - Each of these high quality filters features a semi-permeable surface that lets coffee through, but not the grounds.

Last update on 2022-11-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Keep in mind that there are some people who compost bleached coffee filters. The believe is that the bleach rapidly breaks down and is not an issue once the compost is ready to use. This very well could be true. However, until there are definitive studies on this, if ever, we prefer to work on the side of caution and only compost natural, unbleached coffee filters.