Anatomy of a Brita filter cartridge

Brita On Tap faucet filter cartridge:

This cartridge has been cut open with a hand saw, as there is no way for consumers to open the housing to replace the carbon block.

As you can see, in addition to the housing, the carbon filter has two endcaps, also made of plastic. Why do you suppose these cartridges need a disposable housing? How about if Clorox developed a permanent housing and only the inside carbon block needed to be changed monthly?

Brita pitcher filter cartridge:

Here's a Brita pitcher filter.

And here's what one would see inside after cutting it open. The carbon granules are loose inside the housing. What if we could open the housing, dispose of the granules, and refill it? In fact, there is a company in Britain that has created just such a system: Aqua Select. As far as we know, no similar system is available in North America.

U.K. Pitcher Filter vs. U.S. Pitcher Filter:

According to a representative at Clorox, the filter cartridges in Britain and North America are made differently, which is why they are recyclable in Europe but not in North America. Let's see how they are different.

Here is a Brita water jug purchased in the United States:

This is how the U.S. pitcher filter fits into the jug:

And this is how the U.K. filter (sent to us by a campaign supporter in Britain) fits into the U.S. jug:

So far, they appear to be functionally the same. But it's the inside the counts, right? Here are the insides of both filters after being cut open. The U.S. filter is on the left, and the U.K. filter is on the right:

Both filters were filled with loose carbon granules. The main difference is that the U.S. cartridge has screening material at the bottom. The U.K. filter, on the other hand, has screening material attached to the top. Other differences, like the size and pattern of holes, appear to be cosmetic. We don't see how those small differences could have any impact on the cartridges' ability to be recycled/re-used.