Interior Cleaning

How to Dispose of Broken Glass and Ceramic Safely

Learn what to do with shattered pieces and how to dispose of them properly without injuring yourself or endangering others.
Deirdre Mundorf Avatar
how to dispose of broken glass

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If you’ve ever broken a light bulb, glass jar, baking dish, an electronic device’s screen, you know how sharp and dangerous the glass shards can be. You could easily injure yourself on a piece of glass while cleaning it up or create a potential safety hazard for anyone else who handles your trash if the glass is not disposed of properly. Therefore, learning how to dispose of broken glass safely is essential.

So how do we safely dispose of broken glass, and can you recycle broken glass? Unfortunately, broken glass cannot be recycled in most cases, but check with your local recycling center to confirm. For more details about broken glass disposal, continue reading to learn more about the steps to take to avoid potential hazards.

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Glass shards can be very sharp. They are also often very tiny and may have scattered throughout the room where the item broke. Before you begin to clean up and dispose of broken glass, remember to work very carefully.

Confirm that all of the pieces are picked up before figuring out how to throw away broken glass or recycle it, if your municipality allows it.

Related: 14 Things It’s Illegal to Throw in the Trash

STEP 1: Wear puncture-proof gloves and close-toed shoes.

how to dispose of broken glass

Shards of glass are very sharp and smaller shards may be hidden amongst larger pieces. These pieces could break the skin and cause an injury, so protecting your hands and feet before you begin the clean-up process is essential.

If you are barefoot or wearing sandals, change into a pair of closed-toe shoes to make sure your feet are protected if you accidentally step on a piece of glass. Protect your hands from injury when picking up glass pieces by putting on a pair of puncture-proof gloves.

STEP 2: Collect the broken pieces in a small cardboard box.

how to dispose of broken glass

Once your feet and hands are protected, find a small cardboard box to hold the pieces of broken glass. Carefully pick up all the glass pieces and put them in the box. Remember, glass shards can be very tiny, so you’ll need to look carefully around the entire area where the breakage occurred. You can look for smaller pieces of glass by shining a flashlight on the floor. The glass pieces will reflect the light, allowing you to see them more easily.

If there are larger pieces of glass that are too big to fit into the cardboard box you’re using, safely break them into smaller pieces. To do this, carefully wrap any larger piece of glass in an old towel or cloth, take it outside, and tap on it lightly with a hammer to break the glass into pieces.

STEP 3: Seal the box and label it.

how to dispose of broken glass

Once you have collected all the pieces of broken glass and placed them in the cardboard box, the next step is to seal the box. Use packing tape on the seams to ensure the seal is secure so glass pieces won’t find their way back out of the box.

After sealing the box, add a label to alert others of its contents. Use a thick black or red marker to write “Danger: Broken Glass” on the top and sides of the box. This way, if the refuse collectors or anyone else handles the box, they will know to do so carefully.

Related: How to Dispose of a Microwave Properly

STEP 4: Place the box of broken glass inside a garbage bag and put it in your regular trash bin for pickup.

how to dispose of broken glass

The final step for how to dispose broken glass is to place the sealed and labeled box in a trash bag. Then, place the trash bag in your garbage can to bring down to the curb for your weekly pickup.

If your trash collection date is still a few days away, you may consider placing the box of broken glass on a shelf in the garage or a high shelf in your home to prevent it from getting tossed around in the can as other trash is added. Should you decide to do this, write yourself a reminder note and tape it to your trash can so you don’t forget to take the box of broken glass out with the rest of the trash on trash day.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to dispose of glass properly can help prevent accidental injury to either yourself or another person like a family member or your refuse collectors. Remember, broken glass is very sharp, so always wear protective gloves and closed-toe shoes when cleaning it up. Place the broken glass pieces in a box, and then seal and label the box before adding it to the trash can. Following these steps will make it less likely that the broken glass pieces will hurt someone.

Related: The Right Way to Dispose of Batteries