Can You Recycle Broken Glass?

So you threw a party with friends over. They came with all the energy and passion you just needed to celebrate the end of another week, or you have an army of children who use your home as a war ground, breaking and ravaging as they move. You could also have bulbs that have fulfilled their purposes and do not come on anymore or, by one way or the other, got broken, and you might be wondering about what comes next.

If you have recently mistakenly dropped your precious wine and drinking glass or broken your mirror (and have gotten over the grief), and you’re wondering about how to dispose of the broken pieces safely, you’re in the right place.

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In this post, we are confident that we can your questions and leave you without any doubt on how to dispose of your broken glass properly. Read on!

Is Broken Glass Recyclable?

Glass is one of the few completely recyclable materials, but there are a few exceptions to the type of glass you can recycle. Mirrors, wine, and drinking glass, window glass, and ceramics certainly fall into the category of glass that you can not recycle.

Wine and drinking glasses are made from a chemical composition that causes them to have abnormalities that cause fractures when they are recycled, so they should be wrapped in several sheets of paper or put in a box and then put in the trash can.

They also tend to damage the recycling machine if you place them in there to recycle them.

What about bulbs? You may wonder. Incandescent light bulbs, LED bulbs, and halogen light bulbs are recyclable but are not readily accepted by all recycling centers because of the special treatment they require. However, your recycling center may accept them, so be sure to inquire at your local recycling center.

However, they are not considered hazardous, and therefore can be wrapped with newspapers and disposed of as trash.  

However, compact Fluorescent Lamps(CFLs) contain mercury, which could be a pollutant to the environment when the bulb is broken, and therefore should be appropriately recycled. Unfortunately, not all recycling facilities can recycle CFLs, so to save yourself the stress, you could replace your CFL bulbs with LED bulbs which are also as efficient and are not hazardous to the environment and can be disposed of easily.

If nothing else is recyclable, bottles should be recyclable, right? Of course, you can recycle broken bottles, but most recycling companies do not accept broken bottles because they can cause potential damage to the waste handlers. These injuries could occur especially during the sorting process.

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Can You Put Broken Glass in a Recycling Bin?

Well, since glass is a hundred percent recyclable, especially if it is not a wine glass or a mirror, take a bottle of beer; for example, your instinct might be to put it in the recycling bin to protect the environment and save energy, which is excellent! But in only one instance, will this be causing more harm than good when it is broken.

When glass is broken, it becomes another ball game during the recycling sorting process. Before the sorting process, recyclable waste is usually disorganized and sometimes has to be sorted by hand. Because of this, the waste handlers are at the risk of cutting their hands. It is why most recycling companies discourage people from dropping a broken glass in recycling bins.

Can You Throw Broken Glass in the Trash?

Since the recycling companies have refused to take this dangerous waste off your hands, you might be wondering if the next thing would be to just throw the broken pieces of glass into the trash can. In a kind of way, yes! You can throw the glass into the trash, but the real question should be how to throw the broken pieces away safely, and this post is here to be of help.

When you want to dispose of the broken glasses into the trash, you could use several sheets of newspaper to wrap the glass, but this is not as safe. It is just slightly safer than disposing of the glass without any wrapping. A better way to dispose of the glass would be to wrap it in a piece of cloth, which would be better, the thicker it is.

Sometimes, you might have to break a massive piece of glass into smaller pieces so that you can wrap it properly without increasing the size of the cloth to be used. You can do it by covering the glass with a towel or a stick cloth to prevent the shattered glass from flying around, which you may now hit with a hammer.

To be completely safe, you could then put the clothes into a box with “broken glass” written or taped to the top. It can then be safely in the trash bin.

How Long Does it Take for Glass to Decompose?

Glass is a material that is a hundred percent recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without it losing its quality or inherent properties. But, unfortunately, due to this very stable property, it also has a downside.

Glass is said to last for millions of years without decomposing or degrading (if it does). Glass artifacts from as far back as the 13th century have been found are still in good form. Even if glass breaks, the broken pieces just remain broken but do not break down.

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Modern glass manufacturing processes make the glass even tougher than ancient glass and more resistant to devitrification. The outer surface of the glass absorbs moisture, crystallizes, and breaks off very gradually. Glass that is not recycled can remain in the landfill for years even if it is broken into pieces.

Glass cannot be decomposed by microorganisms because, frankly, there’s just nothing for them to feed on. So when glass eventually deteriorates due to time and weathering factors, it never even really goes away. It just becomes smaller pieces that get absorbed by the soil.

When you throw broken glass in the garbage can, aside from the tendency to injure the sanitation workers, it will end up taking up space in the landfills.

How Many Times Can Glass be Recycled?

Well, you may be wondering how many times you can recycle glass. The answer is short and straightforward. It can, and endlessly at that. It means that glass can be recycled as many times as required.

It is an excellent attribute in that it helps us conserve our resources. Glass is made from sand, limestone, and ash, all of which are natural and renewable resources. However, the production process could be harmful to the environment. Glass goes through a lengthy and rigorous manufacturing process, so recycling certainly helps protect the environment.

5+ Surprising Ways to Reuse Broken Glass

We have established that broken glass is a lot harder to recycle than your usual glass bottles and items. You also certainly cannot dump it in the refuse bin because it could harm you or those in charge of your waste disposal. So what can you do with broken glass?

Well, we have several options for you to repurpose your broken glass. We hope you have fun trying them out.

1. Mosaic Backsplash

This beautiful and functional glass repurposing idea will undoubtedly blow your mind. You will need a strong adhesive or glue gun for this craft. Also, you may want to mix up the shards of broken glass to give it a zesty appearance.

It entails craftily arranging the broken shards on your walls. It could be your bathroom walls, kitchen walls, or even a small portion of your bedroom wall. Be sure to mix up the colors to give it an aesthetically appealing feel.

2. Photo Frames

We bet you didn’t know that you can use your glass shards to beautify your photo frames. You will, however, have to be very careful while working on it so that you won’t harm yourself.

Get your favorite photo frames or frames you plan to gift out. You will also need a glue gun and some glitter. The glitter is optional. Simply attach the broken shards to the photo frames with the glue gun, and sprinkle some glitters on it before it dries. Before you know it, you will have yourself some beautiful and unique-looking photo frames.

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3. China Tabletop

Another superb way to dispose of your broken glass shards is to attach them to a tabletop. If you have an old wooden or plastic table you have been looking to dispose of, then you may use this idea. It is also very suitable for virtually any tabletop in your household, so you don’t have to wait until you have an old table you wish to dispose of.

As always, you need a glue gun and your glass shards. You can now carefully and artfully arrange the fragments on the tabletop. Be sure to mix up the colors to give it a more attractive look.

4. Glass Fridge Magnets

Fridge magnets have numerous uses apart from beautifying the fridge. For one, you can use it to leave notes for yourself. You can also use it to hold your grocery list. Well, you can use your glass shards to male your very own fridge magnets. As always, you have to be careful because you are working with broken glass.

You will need several mini magnets. You can then attach them to your glass shards using a strong adhesive or glue gun.

5. Mosaic Mailbox

Here is a fantastic way to make your mailbox stand out from your neighbors’. You will need a glue gun for this craft, as well as your broken glass pieces. Arrange the shards onto your mailbox and stand back to take in the beautiful view it will present you with.

We can guarantee that before the week runs out, there will be other mailboxes similar to yours down the street!

6. Garden Stones

If you have got a green thumb, we can assure you that you will love this hack. You will need some flat or not-so-hefty stones and a strong adhesive. Gather your glass shards and attach them to the rocks. You can now place these stones at systematic parts of your garden and watch your garden come alive.

The best part is that you can also gift these stones out to your friends who enjoy gardening too!

Conclusion

Broken glass is one of the most challenging items to dispose of for several reasons. For one, it can hurt you or those in charge of your waste disposal. Another is that they are non-biodegradable and will end up taking a lot of space in our landfills.

Well, we have written this blog post to help you make it easier to dispose of your broken glass safely and with ease. So please, read up and stay informed.

References:

https://www.gpi.org/glass-recycling-facts

https://cen.acs.org/materials/inorganic-chemistry/glass-recycling-US-broken/97/i6

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.