04/14/2008 Update: If you’ve reached this page because you want to know how to recycle Brita filter cartridges in North America, please visit http://www.takebackthefilter.org for more information about the campaign to urge Clorox (owner of Brita in North America) to develop a take-back recycling program for these cartridges!
I use Google Analytics to show me where Fake Plastic Fish’s traffic comes from, and sometimes it’s fun to look at the Search terms people have used to find this blog. Going through the list tonight, I found these 81 different related combinations. It’s a long list. Feel free to scroll down fast.
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Wow. These are all actual queries typed by people into a Search Engine. Many of them were used by multiple people. But they don’t represent all the people in North America trying to find out if their water filter cartridges can be recycled. No. These are ONLY the people who also happened to click on the Fake Plastic Fish link that came up on the search list. How many other people are out there trying to find out how to recycle their water filter cartridges and coming up empty-handed?
The point of this exercise is that I’m trying to gauge how much interest there would be in a campaign to urge Clorox, the company that owns the North American division (including Canada) of Brita, to develop a recycling program for the cartridges.
First, a few facts for those unfamiliar with this issued. (Nov 2016 Note: The following information came from the European Brita site https://www.brita.de. Unfortunately, the site was revamped recently and historical information removed, so I can no longer link to it.)
- The Brita company was founded in Germany in 1966.
- In 1992, Brita introduced the first recycling program for filter cartridges. The cartridges are processed at Brita’s plant in Germany, where the components are dismantled and reused.
- In 2000, the entire North American division of the company was sold to the Clorox Corporation, headquartered in Oakland, CA. (FYI: I incorrectly stated in a previous post that this sale took place in 1988 based on an entry in Wikipedia. Won’t be getting info from that source again.)
- Now, while the cartridges from the European company are still collected and recycled, the Brita cartridges from the U.S. and Canada are not. In June of 2007, I sent an email to Brita customer service asking why the American cartridges are not recycled when they are in Europe, and I received an unsatisfactory reply. So I wrote a follow-up email, and received another unsatisfactory reply, stating that the filter cartridges in the U.S. use a different technology than the European ones, but giving no other details.
- In December of 2007, Clorox purchased Burt’s Bees in an attempt to enter the “green” market. In a press release in October 2007, Clorox Chairman and CEO Donald R. Knauss states, “With this transaction, we’re entering into a new strategic phase for our company, enabling us to expand further into the natural/sustainable business platform. The Burt’s Bees® brand is well-anchored in sustainability and health and wellness, and we believe it will benefit from natural and “green” tailwinds. It’s in an economically attractive category with a margin structure that will be highly accretive to Clorox. Combined with our new Green Works™ line of natural cleaning products, and Brita® water-filtration products, we can leverage Burt’s Bees’ extensive capabilities and credibility to build a robust, higher-growth platform for Clorox.”
My plea to Clorox is this: If you’d truly like to help the planet by entering the “green” marketplace, you could first begin by “greening” the products you already produce. Providing a take-back recycling program for your water filter cartridges would be a great step, especially considering that the model technology already exists!
So why am I focusing on Brita rather than other water filter companies? First of all 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. (I don’t know who is #1. This information comes from page 14 of Clorox’s 2007 Annual Report.)
Second, the recycling infrastructure exists within the European branch of the company already.
And third, Clorox is obviously making a bid to appeal to environmentally-conscious consumers at this time. It would be nice for them to put their money where their mouth is.
So, with this information, I’d like to take a little poll here to find out how much interest there would be in putting energy into such a campaign.
RESIDENTS OF NORTH AMERICA ONLY PLEASE.
[Update: The poll is closed. You can read all about the successful campaign results here.]