Can You Recycle Broken Glass?

Can You Recycle Broken Glass?

Can You Recycle Broken Glass?

Is broken glass recyclable, or should you just throw it away? You might think that because glass jars and dishes are recyclable, broken glass must be, also. If that's the circumstance, you're mistaken.

Sadly, broken glass is normally NOT recyclable – check your municipality's specific regulations and conditions as they may differ –for several reasons. Let's begin by examining types of glass and learn why they need to stay out of the blue bin.

All glass is not the same. For instance, window glass, mirrors, and light bulbs include chemicals that make them unfit for reuse at a recycling center in New Jersey. Broken windows and mirror glass can always be re-purposed, however, so do some research before you throw them in the trash. Search for local industrial plants that take broken glass – some plants transform it into building materials, fiberglass, and asphalt.


Understand that hinging on the kind, lightbulbs might require special treatment. Incandescent and halogen bulbs usually go into the garbage. Compact fluorescent bulbs have materials that need to be processed differently and are included in your regional Household Hazard Waste (HHW) program. They must be carried to a local HHW drop-off establishment or reserved for a recycling event.

Wine and drinking glasses

Broken wine or drinking glasses introduce a different issue entirely. Drinking glasses have a distinct chemical composition and melting point compared to container glass. Mixing these together can yield abnormalities and fracture points in recently recycled glass, making it dangerous and unpredictable. Broken wine and drinking glasses must always be wrapped and tossed in the trash. Of course, if your drinking glasses are intact and reusable, re-purpose or donate them.

If you can't locate an industrial station and put your garbage out in plastic bags, wrap the non-HHW glass carefully in paper and place it in the trash. Make sure it is covered securely enough to keep parts from falling out, and employ tape or string to hold the paper in place if required. The idea is to deter handlers or passers-by from getting injured. If you leave your garbage in a cart or can, place the loose pieces in the bin and ensure they can't fall out.

Other kinds of broken glass

And what about your broken container glass? It is a potential hazard for you and waste handlers, so dispose of it in the trash too. As with irregular glass, wrap the pieces in paper and seal them closed if you use plastic bags.

The bottom line is that recycling establishments do not take broken container glass. It introduces a potential hazard to handlers, and recycling companies are often not prepared to remove tiny shards of broken glass from other recyclables. Broken glass also contributes to a major safety concern for the employees sorting the material.

Note: Other options include contacting your local bottle bank and asking if they accept broken bottles. Or reuse the pieces in a creative craft project.

Check with your local program to see how they want you to manage broken glass. While many do not take it, there are some exceptions.

We hope this helps you better understand why most recycling centers do not accept broken glass. Contact us today if you need a recycling center in New Jersey. Let's make the world a better place together.