Is it bad for the environment to put coffee grounds down the drain?

I have a coffee maker that does not need to use filters, so when I wash out the reusable mesh filter I normally just pour the grounds down the drain, but I live in Baltimore city near the Chesapeake Bay and I am worried that pouring these grounds down the sink might be bad for the aquatic life living in the Bay (ie caffeine getting into the water supply and affected fish similar to the increasing problem with estrogens in the water supply due to increased use of hormone therapy and birth control pills).



  1. 0 Votes

    Pouring anything down your drain that could otherwise be utilized is bad for the environment.  Moreover, the more you put down your drain, the more has to be filtered out when the water is treated for public use.  

    That said, a few grounds down your drain, followed by boiling hot water to flush it out, will keep your drain smelling fresh for up to a week – citrus peels do the trick too 😉  

    Here’s an article to get you thinking of alternative uses for your grounds.

  2. 0 Votes

     Depending on your city’s practices, generally disposing of coffee grounds in a garbage disposal will end up in a septic tank or water treatment facility.  Organic materials will then have to be broken down, utilizing more energy.  The most environmentally friendly way of disposing of coffee grounds would be through composting.  Starbucks encourages composting as part of their environmental stewardship initiative.

  3. 0 Votes

    Hi there, I live near the Chesapeake too! From what I can find, putting coffee grounds down the sink is not particularly bad for the environment–any water treatment facility will be able to filter them out, and caffeine is a relatively natural chemical–but it’s not especially good either. What’s more, the grounds can clog up your sink. And if you’re using a bunch of water to rinse them down, that is bad for the environment because it’s a waste of water. There are many other things you can do with coffee grounds, the first and foremost being to put them in a compost heap. You can soak them in water for a few days and then use the whole mixture as plant fertilizer, or use them in the refrigerator as an odor absorber. Check out the first link below for more tips!

  4. 0 Votes

    As those above noted, putting the coffe grounds in a compost pile would be best way to dispose of them. Coffee grounds are quite high in nitrogen and so are a fabulous fertilizer if mixed in with other kitchen or yard scraps. If you don’t have a compost pile (you could start one 🙂 ) or maybe a neighbor with a garden would be interested.

  5. 0 Votes

    Not only the caffeine, but the acidity of the coffee grounds is what would worry me. You could compost your used grounds or just throw them out, but you’re right, the last thing our waters need is used coffee grounds.

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