How can I reuse or recycle a broken glass?

broken_glass250.jpgI was just filling up a glass with water when suddenly it decided to violently smash itself against the sink. I don’t know why. Perhaps it thought its life wasn’t worth living because it was half empty rather than half full or something.

Anyway, now I have a broken glass.

We’ve covered broken crockery before but I would worry about using the glass pieces in the bottom of a plantpot or around the garden because they’re so sharp and slivery.

So what can I do with it instead? I know you can’t recycle Pyrex and sheet glass in bottle banks but what about drinking glasses? It was a very basic, non-patterned clear glass – can they be recycled?

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24 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle a broken glass?”


  1. Al says:

    I would definitely recommend not using it in plant pots. I almost sliced the top off my finger the otherday digging a flower bed over that some helpful soul had strewn with broken glass.

    I would go with dropping it in the bottle bank

  2. Delusion says:

    I’ve put my broken glass in the bottle bank – I believe its fine to do that!

  3. Trish says:

    we have curb side recycling for glass, they’ll take it.

    the other option would be to use it to cut off your ropes when masked ninjas tie you to a chair because you refused to pay protection money from your small business. :)…. oopps, there goes my imagination again… damn calvin&hobbes complex..

  4. Andy says:

    My dad used to cement it to the top of his brick wall in the garden, as a layer of security instead of barbed wire. Not sure how PC that would be in today’s climate, probably get sued for damages!

    • Andy wrote:

      My dad used to cement it to the top of his brick wall in the garden, as a layer of security instead of barbed wire. Not sure how PC that would be in today’s climate, probably get sued for damages!

      Yep, it’s illegal.

    • john says:

      I’ve climbed a few walls in my time that I shouldn’t have.

      If any of them had glass embedded in them, I’d likely be disfigured or possibly dead by now. I don’t think I deserved that.

      From a legal perspective, until we adopt the death penalty for attempted burglary, I’d recommend people don’t use this kind of deterrent.

      • Mike says:

        so are you dying because of the glass cutting you, or because you must have fell off this wall and died?

        I just dont understand how while in the process of climbing youd cut your hands at all and proceed to keep going to cause further harm. at that point thats your fault for being a moron, if you were to cut yourself and fall off and perhaps injure yourself then I can understand.

        I have no real opinion, but it wouldnt bother me if it was legal at all. you get hurt well stop climbing walls or tresspassing. obviously your not welcome if the wall didnt make that clear to start.

        not to mention i think its pretty clear depending on how tall the wall is that you can see the glass at the top. lets all just use our heads here. DONT climb the wall with glass, I guess so many people were hurting themselves they had to put laws in place to help protect idiots.

  5. Rosalind says:

    I am putting up a shed and a man in the pub told me that a layer of broken glass underneath it – in that space under the floor – will deter rats. He is the kind of man who knows these things.

  6. jimmysmits says:

    If you are into the whole anarchy thing, broken glass is awesome used as fodder or in homemade grenades.

  7. Karen Marie says:

    If you have access to a rock tumbler, you can have fun while recycling glasses, wine bottles and more.

    (Instructions based on a small, inexpensive tumbler brand.)

    Directions can also be used for larger tumblers. Simply adjust the contents of the barrel based on your tumbler size and barrel content limit. I am not an expert, just obsessed with tumbling things. Please feel free to alter the instructions to fit your needs)

    Surely you’ve seen, or perhaps had one of your own. A rock tumbler. Many a youth owned the typical tumbler with a red barrel sold under the name brand of ROLLING STONES ROCK TUMBLER. Back then, the length of time it took to tumble and polish rocks seemed like eons, your tumbler ended up in the attic, the garage or a yard sale, seldom having completed the full cycles to produce beautiful rocks as shown on the packaging.

    And yet today I find myself searching for these very same tumblers for use in glass and mosaic craft. Wait, don’t go. It’s easy! Fun, inexpensive, and best of all, you’re recycling! No longer must you wait weeks on end to see results. Come on, join me, it’s fun!

    You will need:

    A rock tumbler
    Common play sand (need not sift unless you have cats. Ahem.)
    Water
    Vaseline or other lubricant
    Broken glass, cut glass, tile, broken plates, cups, etc.
    Patience

    Once you’ve acquired a rock tumbler, the next step is to decide what you would like to tumble. Small rocks, broken or nipped pieces of tile, bits of glass, chunks of dishes, many items can go into a rock tumbler, as long as the barrel is not too full, you can tumble just about anything. I even tumbled sticks for a week one time and they turned out very smooth.

    TIP: Overloading a rock tumbler can and likely will cause it’s early demise. Do not fill your tumbler more than the required quantity, which is typically 2/3′s full.

    You may wish to use tile nippers or wheeled cutters to get a more precise shape, though it doesn’t matter with regard to the edges, as even the roughest cuts or breaks will be smoothed in the tumbling process. Fill the barrel 2/3′s full of material. It is advised not to mix opposing materials, such as glass with rocks with tiles, as you may not achieve the results you seek on all the items. It is better to tumble glass alone, tiles alone, rocks alone, etc.

    Fill the barrel with water so the level of water is just barely above your materials. Add three to four spoonfuls of common sand. Smooth a small amount of Vaseline on the outside of the barrel, then put the lid on securely and let ‘er rip.

    If you simply want to knock the edges from the glass for handling, you don’t have to run the machine for days on end. In fact, several hours will do a good job. You can take the tumblers off at any time and check for smoothness.

    The longer you leave the tumblers running, the smoother and rounder the pieces will become. Alter the time according to what you would like the finished product to look like. Remember, this will likely be a noisy process.

    If you have a garage or a covered area outdoors, it would be best to run your tumbler(s) where they may run continuously for days without causing anyone a headache.

    If you must stop the tumbling process after it has tumbled for a few days, rinse the items off and drain the water. Depending on what you choose to tumble, the mixing action can actually produce a gunk very similar to concrete, which is a pain in the butt to get clean.

    When tumbling broken pottery, dishes, dinnerware and other items, it is a good idea to check the tumbler after two days, sometimes rinsing and adding more sand if the mixture is too thick and producing the concrete-like gunk.

    Have fun, experiment, don’t be afraid to try different materials. Keep in mind that some broken dishes may lose their patterns. Designs on dinnerware in gold will rub off, as will most hand painted items.

    The way I figure it, if the design is still on the pieces after four days of tumbling in sand, it should be able to handle being a part of a stepping stone, mosaic item, etc.

    Another fun thing to do with rock tumblers is to make cubes. If you happen to have a tile saw, try cutting plates into evenly sized squares, then tumble them. They come out a fantastic cube shape with nice soft edges, perfect for mosaics.

    Remember, glass will take on a frosty look if left in the tumbler long. While I do like the frosted look, others might prefer a clear yet safe to handle glass, which can be achieved by reducing the tumbling time.

    Please feel free to ask any questions, and again, remember, I’m not a professional tumbler, I just play one on the internet.

    :-) Karen Marie

    • michelle says:

      Karen – thanks! I just returned from a trip up north to Glass Beach. On the beach was beautiful broken pieces of glass in a multitude to colors. I couldn’t wait to get home and find out how I could make some of this beautiful glass. I can’t wait to buy a rock tumbler and try it out myself.

      thanks again!

    • Kacy says:

      Fantastic idea! This solves two of my problems. They don’t accept glass for recycling in my area, and I have wanted mass quantaties of rocks for my rock garden. Plus, my mom has an old tumbler in storage! Thanks!

    • mech says:

      Hi Karen, If you are still online after all these years I would like to chat with you about tumbling.
      Thanks, Mech

  8. henny says:

    If those broken glass are particularly thick (or even if they aren’t, you can always stack them) and you’ve got time (rainy days and all), sand the edges until dull, and stack them, or arrange them into glass sculptures. use a glue gun or a special glass glue. use paint to colour, etc.

    my friend broke a mirror a week ago(supposed to be bad luck, i guess), sat down and sanded the edges down, put some paint on some of them, stack one on top of another, gluing each addition (using a glue gun). after it reached a desired height, she glued a small vodka glass and put a votive candle inside it. it’s a great mantlepiece thing.

    obviously, thoroughly clean workspace after you finish creating, just in case some stray glass caught the soles of tiny feet, etc. and even though the edges are dull enough, there are still enough points to hurt a child. so, keep it away from children is my best advice if you do decide to make a glass sculpture, or a candleholder.

  9. josh winter says:

    this sould be band and use plasic cups and bottles

    • Guest says:

      Eventually I worked out that you were apparently trying to say that glass vessels should be “banned”. I must say, what a thoroughly silly idea. Glass is much easier to recycle, is not made from fossil fuels- unlike plastics- and drinks drunk from glass taste far superior.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Send the glass to be melted into floor and wall tiles.
    Or buy a cheap small kiln and melt it yourself into 100x100mm tiles. When you have enough tiles for a kitchen spashback you can sell them. Done.

  11. Someone says:

    That rock tumbling idea was cool. Right now i’m trying to sort of piece broken glass from many different broken things together to make a bowl with clay or something like that. Im still trying though.

  12. Michelle G says:

    If you have a craft centre or pottery nearby they may well apreciate your broken glass, especially if its coloured…

    The glass can be added to the bottom of ceramic dishes, plates etc during the glaze firing to achieve some wonderful decorative (and hardwearing) effects.

  13. Ravikumar says:

    Dear All.

    Where we submit the broken glass ware. I am working in testing company, mostly we r testing with glasswares.

    We have more broken glass wares & suggest me a local supplier in INDIA they can buy it from us (free of cost).

    Top Urgent

    Regards
    Ravikumar
    +91-9916029900

  14. Anonymous says:

    Glass
    Q. Why can’t I recycle broken glasses with my glass bottles and jars?

    A. The combination of ingredients used to make glassware is different from what goes into container glass for bottles and jars. If these two types of glass are recycled together, the resulting glass will not be suitable for container glass. In fact, glassware, ceramics, window panes, or mirrors can pose a threat to equipment in a glass recycling plant.

  15. Carollyn says:

    No tumbling here- kilnwork.

    Our local potters made small bowls and pindishes and melted colors of glass in the bottoms of them when firing.

    The shards of glass were collected from 100-year-old “dumps” near here, sorted into color batches and placed in the bottoms of the pieces so the colors would swirl and marblize.

    Sooo- local historic pottery upcycled local historic glass into beautiful items that are cherished by all who purchase them, especially us “locals”.



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