How to Dispose of Broken Glass Safely
We’ve all done it. Whether we’ve accidentally dropped a glass or need to throw something away that will get broken in a trash bag, disposing of broken glass correctly is essential to protect ourselves and sanitation workers.
Despite how most of us dispose of glass, you should not just throw broken glass into a trash bag. These glass pieces can easily rip through the bag, which can create a mess and potentially injure someone. When not disposed of correctly, these pieces of glass can be a considerable safety problem.
Below are some simple steps and tips to help you dispose of broken glass while limiting the chance of injuring someone as the glass travels through the sanitation system.
1. Determine if Your Glass is Recyclable
Yes and no. Some glass containers are recyclable. However, not all of them are. You can check containers for a recycling symbol that will specify if and how that glass container is recyclable. Some glasses can be broken down to make new glass products.
Broken glass, in particular, is hardly every recyclable. This is because we often break, like drinking glasses and mirrors, usually contain chemicals that make them unsuitable for recycling. If melted down, these glasses cannot be remade into a new glass material. In other words, there is no point in trying to recycle them.
2. Place it In a Secure Container
If you have a smaller amount of broken glass, like that produced by a vase or a light bulb, then you can easily place the glass in a secure container. This container should be something that won’t easily be pierced by the glass pieces, but it should also be something that you don’t mind throwing away. Paper bags and cardboard boxes work well.
This small step will prevent the glass from cutting sanitation workers or breaking through the bag and creating a mess.
3. Place Tape Over Large Pieces
If you are disposing of a larger piece of broken glass, like a mirror, tape over the sharp edges and place tape across the material to keep broken pieces from littering the area. This will prevent the glass from breaking the trash bag or sanitation area. It also prevents some unknowing person from grabbing the larger piece and cutting their hand.This may seem time-consuming, but it is necessary to ensure that the glass is disposed of safely.
4. Place the Item in a Bag
Once you have taken the above measures, you can place the taped-up item or glass-containing cardboard box into a bag. A regular trash bag works just fine. It should not be in danger of being ripped if you properly secured the glass in tape or cardboard.
5. Remember that Hazardous Glass Must Be Handled Differently
Not all glass is made equal. Most can simply be thrown away by following the three steps above. However, some require special treatment and further steps. Lightbulbs often fall into the “special treatment” category. Incandescent and halogen lightbulbs are fine. However, fluorescent bulbs contain materials that need to be processed differently. They must be taken to a local HHW drop-off facility.
6. For Large Pieces, Contact Your Disposal Service
If you are throwing away an item that is larger than 4 feet, you should call your disposal services. Pieces of glass this large pose a safety risk to sanitation workers. Some disposal companies will let those collecting the trash from your house know about the large glass object so that they can handle it with extra care. Others do not take pieces of glass this large at all, so you may have to find a different local service to take it.
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