I am a person who would like to minimize the amount of waste sent to landfill. So, I have asked myself a question about how to dispose of water softener resin? I mean, there are lots of materials used to make it but what happens when it has reached the end of lifespan? How eco-friendly it actually is? Let’s find out together, but here is a brief summary.
The softener resin is made of non-recyclable polystyrene. When reached the end of a lifespan, you should put beads into the container to prevent spillage into landfill and dispose of it as general waste. Although non-recyclable, it has a long lifespan up to 15 years if maintained well.
Further, in the article, I will talk more in detail about the resin, its lifespan, environmental impact, and the way to dispose of it. So, without any ado, let’s get to it.
How is Water Softener Resin Made
To understand how to dispose of softener resin, it would be beneficial for you to understand how and what its made of.
I have reached out to the company Kinetico, which is one of the market leaders in the water softening industry to ask about how their resin is made.
I got a response saying that resin in Kinetico softeners is a polystyrene-based. However, my research showed that most manufacturers are using the same substance.
Polystyrene is made of three elements. The main component is styrene, which is extracted from petroleum or natural gas. Styrene then reacts with ethylene and benzene, and the reaction of these three elements form polypropylene.
Now, polypropylene needs to be transformed into the ion-exchange resin. This is done via a process called polymerization.
Softeners usually have two tanks, one with polystyrene resin and brine tank with salt.
The resin contains thousands of beads, and as water passes through the resin, it pulls calcium and magnesium ions from water and replaces them with sodium ions. The tank regenerates the resin using sodium ions, once all have been used, and this is how a softener works.
I know that there is a lot of confusing terms, so if it doesn’t make sense to you, just let me know in the comment section below, and I will clarify.
It is evident that there is a lot of chemical processing involved, but regardless of this, the resin should comply with food safety standards.
Despite the complicated manufacturing process, polypropylene beads are BPA-Free and completely safe for humans. However, how long do they last? Let’s find out now.
The ion-exchange resin is essentially made of similar plastic that is often used as a plastic packaging of daily products we consume. So, as you are probably aware of, plastic has an enormously long lifespan.
Because of the material that is resin made of, it has a very long lifespan. Various companies submit different lifespan times for their products, but on average, we can say that resin will last about 10-15 years.
This being said, the time could be different for every individual softener. This is because water quality is different for each region. What is essential to know is that softener does not filter the water in a way the filter does. Although salt-based softeners can remove a small level of iron, this is the limit.
So, if your water is highly contaminated and you don’t use the whole house filtration system before the softener, contaminants in the water will damage the resin over time which shortens its life.
The most dangerous contaminant for softener resin is chlorine, and it damages the resin. So, make sure that you test the quality of water in your region to understand whether softener would be enough for you or additional filter is required.
If you take good care of your softener, it will last more then earlier mentioned 10-15 years.
PS: Since you are reading this article, chances are that your resin has reached the end of it’s life. I know that buying a new softener is very expensive, so I had a look around to select a good replacement resin for the old one.
I have come across this resin on Amazon, so have a look and see if it’s good enough for you.
Is Resin Hazardous for The Environment?
Right, so what about resin and its impact on the environment.
From the previous chapter, it’s clear that the manufacturing process involves a lot of processing. Additionally, the fact that petroleum is engaged in a process means that the whole supply chain is not very friendly to the environment.
Although I was trying to understand the impact of the final product. Here are some of my findings.
Beads in resin are stable and non-reactive with other compounds, so there is no problem here. Note, they are known to be non-reactive while used under standard conditions.
The bottom line is that resin is a very stable material. Although there is one thing you should avoid, which is a high temperature.
The resin is not designed to soften hot water or work with high temperatures, and it will inevitably damage the softener.
Even though I have said that resin is a stable and non-hazardous material, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to follow specific steps of safe disposal.
So, let’s see what things you should avoid during the disposal.
It is nothing new, that plastic contaminates our oceans and landfill, and as the owner of this blog, I feel obligated to ensure that my readers don’t contribute to the pollution. I know, I know this is an unrealistic goal, but at least I can ensure that we contribute less, which is a good step forward.
Here is the main thing:
Even though the resin is made of polystyrene, it is non-recyclable. Yes, this means it couldn’t be reused and has to be disposed of as general waste.
Obviously, there is only one way to dispose of it, which is put it into the bin.
I would like to encourage you to follow these simple steps:
This is important as the container will keep beads together, and prevent them from spilling during transportation or waste processing.
I would also like to encourage you to avoid flushing the resin down to the toilet or drain. This will cause unnecessary pollution, and we don’t want to be part of that.
Now, I have come across another interesting way of reusing the ion-exchange resin to assess the quality of the soil.
If I am honest, I don’t think it is a good idea, as the resin is already old and doesn’t work as it should do the task. However, if you are interested to know more, you can read the study yourself (click here).
Okay, I hope you have learned something new in this article and have a much better understanding of the resin and how to dispose of it.
I know that the topic is quite difficult, so don’t be afraid to leave any questions in the comments below. No worries, I won’t bite you. Don’t forget to also read my guide on both salt and non-salt based water softeners.
Let’s discuss this together.