I've heard that coffee grounds are a good "green"(nitrogen rich) to put in your compost, but I was wondering if I could throw the filter in there as well? They are the standard "accordion side" white ones.


10 Answers 10


The paper ones? Sure - they're just like blotting paper and break down quickly. The usual things that can make some papers questionable should not be present (plastic coatings, metal and/or oil based inks) - or if they are present, you need to quickly change your filter brand!

What I would probably do if possible, is to try and tear the paper a little so that it all mixes up more easily and quickly.

  • 1
    I also put paper towels in if they were used for fruit-veg only: for example when I rub the fuzz off a peach with a paper towel, I compost the paper towel. Dec 31, 2011 at 16:21
  • Same here if it is convenient.
    – winwaed
    Dec 31, 2011 at 17:04
  • My family has always done this, and they have never broken down (either in a heap, a bin, or a big compost tumbler). It was one of many things that my younger self had to pick out when composting the garden. Can you add any details about what conditions coffee filters need to break down? Apr 20, 2017 at 17:09
  • Not a problem I've seen, but if they stay wet then that should help. Breaking them will always help - as with anything in compost (thing of a piece of wood - it will break down quicker as chips than a big branch)
    – winwaed
    Apr 21, 2017 at 15:19

Yes, you can add coffee grounds with their filters to your compost pile. Because they are wet, they decompose fairly quickly. The filters may dry out you if leave them on top of the pile in dry weather. Keep it inside the pile and keep it moist. Also, worms compost the grounds and filters very fast. I have a five tray worm factory and I just drop the whole filter with the grounds in and close the lid, and my army of five thousand redworms eat it in less than a week. I found filters to be easy to compost in almost any composter. If you have a two week ComposTumbler you will want to shred them before you add them, to keep it even.


I agree that coffee filters do not break down quickly. However, I simply move any uncomposted material such as the coffee filters to a new compost pile, and let the composting complete there. I always screen the compost to catch any twigs, etc., that did not break down sufficiently.


My brown coffee filters breakdown quickly. The white chlorinated coffee filters take longer to break down.


We purchased a bag of cow manure from a local hardware and placed a small amount in a container with water to serve as a manure tea where we also deposit coffee filters, grounds and fruit trimmings. Works for us.


Absolutely ok; we have incorporated coffee grounds into our plant food and many of those grounds included the paper filter. You can go to our site if you are curious, there is a lab analysis on the site: www.beantogreen.com


I don't mind they don't break down fast, I consider it a mulch for the soil and or weed discourager. I have my colleagues use a plastic bin to save all coffee grounds with their filters and I recycle them to my garden. You can imagine the amount of filters that go into my garden. I haven't seen a problem at all with them. It's true if the filters are exposed to air they do not decompose unless covered in soil.


Paper coffee filters do not break down quickly at all. I've tried different brands: all natural, brown etc. Those of you say they do have maybe never actually watched a coffee filter in a compost pile.

  • 4
    Sounds like you filters are drying out or you are not giving them long enough.
    – winwaed
    Jun 13, 2014 at 14:34
  • 1
    Any big chunk of paper is going to take longer to break down than a shredded piece of paper. That's not unexpected. Mar 29, 2017 at 16:12

You need carbon materials for compost, which is all the paper filters are, so they are not only fine, but part of what is needed. Just try and rip/break them up when turning over your compost, just as you would rather throw in a shredded newspaper instead of one that is fully intact.


coffee grounds ok, tea ok, filters not ok. use only biodegradable filters. i have hundreds of filters and tea bags in my compost that have not eroded at all and that is many months accumulation.

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