Nobody likes to hear the unfortunate crash of glass. The shatter, the broken pieces, and the cleanup are all trouble in itself. However, the safe disposal of broken glass is often an overlooked part after cleaning up where most people dump the glass in the garbage can without a second thought.
More important than the cleanup is the safe disposal of broken glass. Your disposal efforts should ensure that other people who handle the glass do not get hurt.
Broken glass can be thrown away. But you’ve to ensure that it is done safely. Your disposal should be considerate of the sanitation workers or other people who might come in contact with the broken glass you disposed of. Take a few steps to pack your broken glass pieces into a cardboard box to safely dispose of so that it does not hurt others while being handled.
Glass when broken is trouble to anyone who comes in contact with it. If not thrown away carefully, the sharp pieces of the broken glass can cut those who handle it. You will have to take measures to avoid this by breaking the broken glass into smaller pieces, packing them securely, labeling the boxes properly, and carefully disposing of the boxes.
Can You Throw Away Broken Glass?
While you can throw away glass that is broken, you will have to take care to safely trash it. While many people simply sweep the broken glass and put it into a garbage can, this can be a serious hazard for workers who handle the disposal.
You can ensure that the people who take care of broken glass are free of harm by taking a few precautionary measures while you dispose of broken glass. Remember that these steps are highly recommended as you put the broken glass away in your curbside bin.
Follow these steps for the safe disposal of broken glass.
Why Should You Not Throw Away Broken Glass?
According to a 2015 study, U.S. recycling workers are injured at twice the rate of workers in similar industries. Broken glass is one of the reasons cited, along with needles, heavy machinery, and high worker turnover rates.
1. Carefully Gather Broken Glass
You might not like the sound of it when it breaks, but it is too late to do something about it. You will now have to be careful in collecting the broken pieces so that there is none left that can be of serious harm. Depending on the glass item that is broken, you will have to ensure that proper precaution is taken to avoid any harm to you or others when you’re reading it for disposal.
If it is a small glass article like a container or jar that broke, be sure to collect the pieces of glass and place it on a thick dry cloth. Once you’ve collected the pieces, clean the area where the glass article crashed so that you do not have tiny shards of glass that can hurt you or others.
How Long Does Glass Take To Decompose In A Landfill?
Glass takes a VERY long time to naturally decompose. Luckily, most glass is essentially melted sand so it doesn’t leach any chemicals into the surrounding area but it can pose a physical threat to animals and workers while it’s sitting in a landfill.
2. Break into Smaller Pieces
Once you’ve gathered the pieces of glass that are broken and placed on top of thick cloth, cover the cloth and use a hammer to lightly tap on the larger pieces. The goal is to break the larger pieces into smaller ones so that they can be handled easily for disposal.
Break the large pieces into smaller ones, not into tiny shards. This is because tiny shards can get hard to notice and can irritate the skin when it comes in contact with the skin. The glass shards can also be inhaled which can be dangerous.
Once this is done, you can be assured that the glass pieces will not pierce anybody since they are broken into smaller pieces and that they are kept wrapped in a thick cloth that they cannot tear through.
3. Place in a Cardboard Box
You will have to place the broken glass in the thick cloth into a cardboard box. You can add a sheet to the bottom of the cardboard box while you place the cloth inside it. If the cardboard box is large, you can add more cloth or sheets to fill it up and place the thick cloth with broken glass in it.
When you’ve made sure that the cardboard box is sturdy and can be sealed, use a good adhesive to seal the box carefully. You can also use tape to seal it so that you are sure that it will hold well during transportation. After this, use a red or black marker to write something like “Danger! Broken Glass Inside” to warn the workers handling the box that they are dealing with broken glass.
Why Is Glass Not Accepted In Curbside Recycle Bins?
Many areas have stopped accepting glass in curbside recycling bins due to the danger to workers, broken glass contaminating more expensive recyclables, and the cost that comes with transporting heavy glass compared to other recyclables.
4. Safely Dispose of Broken Glass
The broken glass in the cardboard box can be placed in your curbside bin to be taken away. However, you will have to understand the local regulations for the disposal of broken glass before throwing it in your garbage can. Get in touch with the authorities to know if broken glass can be thrown into the regular garbage container.
Since the rules differ from locality to locality, you will have to get confirmation from the local authorities before throwing away broken glass. If your broken glass is from containers and jars that are recyclable, you can get to know if they can still be recycled. The local recycler will give you the information needed to dispose of or recycle the broken glass.
Where Can You Dispose of Broken Glass?
Broken glass from containers, jars, windows, mirrors, and others are disposable and can be dropped into the curbside bin after taking measures to safely seal them. Know that when it comes to broken glass containers and jars, they can be recycled, and hence you can get in touch with your local recycling center to know if they will accept broken containers and jars.
If they are accepted for recycling, you may get instructions on how to hand them over to workers or may be asked to drop them at your nearest recycling center.
Treated glass cannot be recycled since the melting point of the glass is altered by the chemicals added to the glass. Hence, these glasses will be sent to the garbage. You will have to follow the safe disposal steps mentioned above to pack the broken glass pieces carefully in a cardboard box or plastic bag before placing it in a garbage bin.
Take care to mark the box where you’ve kept the broken glass so that it is easy for workers who handle them to not get cut by the glass. Also, you can get in touch with your local authorities to know when they will pick up the broken glass you are waiting to dispose of in the curbside bin. They might give you a time by which you can place your sealed broken glass in the garbage for collection.
Can Broken Glass be Recycled?
Broken glass can be recycled. It is preferable if the glass was whole because broken glass cannot be recycled to the previous state. This means that it cannot be recycled back to its previous form and can only be recycled into new glass articles. Broken glass recycling also depends on the area you live in. The local recycling program may or may not accept broken glass for recycling.
The main reason why recycling centers do not accept broken glass is because of the harm it can have if not handled carefully. This has to be accounted for when recycling a lot of glass where broken glass needs special attention. If the local recycling center does not accept broken glass, you can reach out to construction and demolition recyclers in your area who might use the broken glass in fiberglass and tiles in construction.
Of all broken glass, only containers and jars are recyclable. Treated glass including window glass, mirrors, porcelain, and Pyrex cannot be recycled and can only be disposed of. If your broken glass is a treated glass, you will have to safely put it away in your curbside bin. If not, you can find out if the broken glass is accepted by your local recycling program and try to recycle it.
If the broken glass is colored glass, make sure to get a confirmation from your recycler whether they will take in colored glasses for recycling. Glasses of similar colors have to be recycled together. You can get more information on this from your recycler.
Glass is one of the few materials that can be recycled over and over again. There is no loss in the strength and quality of the glass due to recycling. You must try to recycle the glass you’re using to minimize the consumption of raw materials used in the production of new glass products.
Now that you know that glass can be thrown away safely by following a few steps that make it safe to handle and even recycle, you do your best to take the necessary steps that make handling broken glass easier for you and for the workers. Get in touch with your recycling program to know about the rules for disposing of the glass that is broken. Do your part towards ensuring proper disposal and recycling of broken glass.