We all know that dealing with broken glass can be a real pain, and pretty dangerous if you aren’t careful.
Drop a wine glass on a hard kitchen floor, and the pieces can shatter and scatter very far and are often so small that they become hard to see.
Broken light bulbs and mirror glass can become buried in carpets and rugs where you may later step on them.
Whether it’s window glass, broken bottles, or shards from a broken glass container, special treatment and attention should be applied in order to safely clean up.
Doing a prompt and thorough clean up job is vital if you want to avoid injuries at a later date, but what do you do with broken glass once you have swept it all up into a pan?
Can and should broken glass be put in the recycling bin? The answer is not as simple as you might think…
Can Broken Glass Go In A Recycling Bin?
Most recycling companies suggest that shards of glass should not be placed loose in your regular recycling bin along with all your other recyclable materials.
This is because sharp pieces of glass pose a potential hazard to workers at your local recycling facilities.
When thrown in with everything else, the tiny broken glass pieces can cut and injure workers’ hands during sorting, and this is not desirable.
What is more, certain types of glass are unsuitable for recycling due to their chemical composition.
Specifically, mirror glass, light bulbs, and wine glasses all have a chemical structure that is not compatible with the recycling processes used to return glass to its raw form.
These types of items should be wrapped and disposed of in the trash.
How Should Broken Glass Be Recycled?
If you have broken beer bottles or other types of glass that have been dropped and broken, the glass itself can still be recycled and reduced back to its raw materials for remolding.
The best way to go about this is to collect all your glass shards up and place them in a cardboard box. This will protect whoever handles it at the next stage of the process.
You can then take the cardboard box to a specific bottle bank for collection, or to your local recycling center where they will have a recycling cart for glass recyclables.
If you have large pieces of broken glass that are too big to place in a recycling container, you should look up your local recycling company in the phone book and make a specific service request for them to come and pick up the glass on an agreed collection day.
How Is Glass Recycled?
Glass recycling is a complex process that involves melting down broken glass into a liquid form called cullet.
Then the cullet is poured into molds to create new products like windows, tableware, and even car windshields.
The glass used by manufacturers to produce these items is made from recycled glass, which means that it has already gone through the same process as the glass we use every day.
It’s important to note that while most people don’t realize it, there are actually two different kinds of glass: clear glass and colored glass.
Clear glass is usually used for drinking glasses and other household items, whereas colored glass is used for things like picture frames and decorative vases.
The difference between clear and colored glass is that clear glass is more brittle than colored glass, so when it breaks, the pieces tend to shatter rather than splinter.
Colored glass tends to break into larger pieces, making it easier to separate out and reuse.
How Do You Recycle Different Types Of Glass?
Many councils will ask you to separate your glass (unbroken) into colors.
This is because if different colored glass becomes mixed together at the recycling plant then the new glass that is produced will have a strange hue and will be diminished in quality.
It is also because different colored glasses have different melting points and therefore aren’t compatible with each other.
Most recycling companies also request that you separate your waste glass from your other recyclable materials.
Cardboard, metal, plastic and sheets of paper should all be separated to make the job of the recycling workers easier and more effective.
Broken glass should be wrapped and packaged, labeled clearly and placed on top of the recycling bin.
Can You Put Broken Glass In The Trash?
Putting broken glass into the regular trash can cause the exact same problems as throwing it loose into the recycling.
Sharp shards can cut and slice workers and machinery, and they can also cut through your trash bag and cause everything to spill out which is pretty annoying.
Instead of chucking glass shards into the trash, you should sweep up all the pieces and wrap them in newspaper.
Be sure to wrap them thoroughly before placing them into the regular trash cart for disposal.
Drinking glasses have a particular chemical composition which means they cannot be turned into molten glass and separated into their raw materials.
Drinking glasses should therefore always be placed safely in the main trash rather than placed with the rest of your glass waste.
How Do You Safely Clean Up Broken Glass?
If you break some glass in your home, it is important to clean up swiftly and sensibly. Here are some simple steps that you can follow to ensure you get every last shard.
1. Clear the area. If you have guests, pets, or young children around, make sure that they are safe first.
2. Sweep up the glass. Use a broom to collect the large pieces and a dustpan to gather them up.
3. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove any tiny pieces that may be left on the floor.
4. Wipe down surfaces. Make sure that you wipe down furniture and floors with a damp cloth in order to pick up any hard glass dust and small particles.
5. Wrap all the pieces in newspaper and place them in the trash. Alternatively, place the bundle in a cardboard box and label it as broken glass.
Then place the box on top of your other recycling where it can clearly be seen by workers on your next collection day.
Recycling is an extremely useful way of reducing our impact on the environment.
By separating our waste into its component parts we reduce the amount of energy required to produce new products. We also help to prevent pollution entering our waterways and oceans.
We hope this article has helped you understand how to recycle your broken glass properly. Remember, recycling is not just about saving money, but also about protecting the planet.