All glass is the same, isn’t it? It’s just sand melted at a high temperature, so there shouldn’t be a recycling difference, right? Well, not exactly.
Advancements in glass technology bring us four basic yet different types that serve various purposes and not all are able to go into recycling.
Tempered glass is one such type of glass. But is it recyclable? For a short answer, tempered glass is not recyclable.
It’s because the process of creating it makes up to five times stronger than normal, untreated glass.
But the ability to recycle it will depend on if there’s a place nearby that will accept it.
What Is Tempered Glass?
Of all the types of glass available, tempered is the most popular.
This glass heats at almost 1300°F (700°C) which is considerably higher than normal.
Then an accelerated cooling process on the surface hardens the glass to such an extent that it changes the physical properties.
This process makes tempered glass stronger and safer than untreated.
The chemical transformation by massive amounts of heat is what allows the molecules to bond together in a more durable way.
Then, the faster cooling compacts those molecules.
It’s what give the glass the ability to withstand abuse, accidents and other mishaps.
What Items Comprise Tempered Glass that You Can’t Recycle?
There are so many things in our daily lives made of tempered glass.
Unfortunately, you may not be able to recycle it.
This will depend on your area and whether they offer a center that accepts it or not.
Some of these glass objects include, but not limited to:
- Drinking Glassware
- Table Tops
- Refrigerator Shelving
- Light Bulbs
- Broken Glass (even if it isn’t tempered, you can’t recycle it)
- Window Panes (auto and home)
- Corning Ware
- Entertainment Center Glass
- Storage Containers
- Some Flower Vases
- Some Picture Frames
Why Can’t You Recycle Tempered Glass?
Normal jars, bottles and other packaging made of glass is often the untreated type.
Because of the process tempered glass undergoes to make it durable, there’s a difference in chemical composition.
This means tempered glass must submit to a higher temperature than glass used for food items.
So, technically speaking, you can recycle tempered glass.
But this will only be the case if all the glass is the same.
There are some municipal programs that do offer tempered glass recycling to the public.
However, it’s not widely available.
If you can’t find a convenient recycling place, you will have to devise some other means of disposal.
How Do I Know the Difference between Tempered and Untreated Glass?
For most households, there are generally two types of glass: tempered and untreated.
You can better identify the difference between the two as food and household.
Therefore, food glass refers to anything like salsa jars, beer bottles, pickle jars and etc. If something like a window or mirror breaks, this is household glass and you will have to dispose it some other way.
Sometimes, you might be unsure of the kind of glass you have.
In this case, it’s good to be on the safe side and take it to a place that accepts tempered glass.
How Do You Dispose of Tempered Glass?
If you have a lot of tempered glass on your hands, do not throw it away with the regular trash.
Only do this when instructed to by local laws and regulations. Consider the following to dispose of tempered glass:
- Municipal Programs: Look around your local area to see if there are any recycling places that accept tempered glass. If your immediate facility doesn’t take it, they may very well know of somewhere that will accept it.
- Glass-Making Companies: There may be a company in your community that uses glass to make their products. Hunt around online or page through the phonebook to see if there’s a glass block maker, bottle producer or some other such manufacturing operation.
- Artists: Donate your glass to artists who use it in their creations; sometimes there will be youth outreach art programs or co-ops that need it. You can browse the paper or contact a local arts organization. You could even put an ad online or in the paper promoting the tempered glass for artistic use.
- Get Creative: Be resourceful about things you need around your home. How can you repurpose the tempered glass you have? If you have many broken little pieces, you could learn how to make a mosaic and turn it into artwork, decorations or practical household items. Painting on tempered glass is an intriguing idea for those with a talent for it.
- City Dump: If all else fails, you can take it yourself to the city dump or municipal waste site. This way you don’t run the risk of harming sanitation workers and they can help you dispose of it safely. Be sure you call them beforehand to ensure they will take the glass from you. If not, they may have suggestions for you.
Tempered glass is a great material. It’s strong, durable and can withstand amazing amounts of pressure and stress.
This works like a dream for refrigerators, mirrors, glassware and many other household items.
But, because of the process it undergoes to make it that strong, it usually can’t go to regular recycling.
If you’re lucky enough to live close enough to a place that takes tempered glass for recycling, you’re all set. However, in the case you don’t, you’ll have to find another means of disposing it.
Whatever you do, don’t throw it in the regular trash unless your local area okays it.
You also want to ensure you don’t hurt anyone else while throwing the glass away in a safe and responsible manner.
Repurposing is the best way to recycle tempered glass, so you can use it for something else or give it to an artist who needs it.
When all else fails, contact your city dump or municipal waste center to see if they have any helpful suggestions.