Clorox, the North American parent of Brita, is urging Americans to take the pledge to reduce their use of plastic water bottles via their Filter For Good website, in partnership with Nalgene. They have several commercials depicting our love affair with plastic disposable water bottles in our daily routine, whether at the gym or playing ball. Such slogans as “thirty minutes on the treadmill, forever in a landfill,” or “an hour on the court, forever in a landfill,” drives home the reality that the vast majority of bottles end up in a landfills. More specifically, Americans sent 38 billion water bottles to landfills in 2006. 1
However, I find this campaign to be ironic. The Company is asking us to stop sending water bottles to landfills, but on the other hand, its plastic filters that purifies the water are ending up there anyways. Why? Clorox does not take back its own filters. Watch this video by Jeph and Dorothy of Studio Freshh that nicely sums up the implications.
According to The Take back the Filter campaign, Brita filters are recycled in Europe, and not in the United States. Apparently, there is no difference between the filters used in Europe and the US.
So, why are they recycled in Europe and not here? Brita has a collection process in place with its dealers so that the filters can be recycled. Clorox, on the other hand, does not. They cited the following reason in one of their letters addressed to Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish, one of the organizers of the Campaign:
“It’s true that Brita filters are recyclable in other countries, because they have recycling programs for such materials. As of now, the U.S. waste management systems are not equipped to collect Brita filters for recycling purposes.”
Someone please explain to me why Clorox can not arrange the recycling of its filters through its dealers like Brita does in Europe ? Okay, how about this. Why not have printable mailing labels via your website so that people can mail back the filter? These seem to be simple solutions.
Clorox bought Burt’s Bees, a natural personal products company in 2007, and are the creator of Green WorksTM Cleaners, green cleaning products. At the same time, they are pushing their filtering systems so that we reduce our water bottle habits. I am left wondering why a large corporation such as Clorox, who is trying to be seen as a green player, can’t figure out how to recycle their own filters? Why re-invent the wheel. Just ask Brita in Europe how they have accomplished this.
You might wonder why is The Take Back the filter Campaign focusing only on Brita.
“Brita has the #1 market share of pour-through filter cartridges in the U.S. and Canada. It’s the #1 faucet-mount filter in Canada and the #2 faucet-mount filter in the U.S. (Per Clorox’s 2007 Annual Report.)”
If you are as incensed as I am, here it what you can do according to the Take Back the Filter Campaign:
- Write a letter to the Clorox executives (This link contains a sample letter for your use.)
- Send your used filters to the Campaign. As of this date, 348 filters have been sent to the Campaign.
- Help spread the word!
- Sign the petition.
This is a grass roots effort. So, the more people that sign, write, and share, the more impact this campaign will have. Thank you Beth and your fellow organizers for standing up for what you believe in.
Updated!!! (1/29/08) See my article about Clorox and Recycline’s new partnership on recycling and re-using the filters. Way to go, Beth!