Is Glass Recyclable? A Quick Guide on How to Get Rid of Glass

Glass takes up space in our landfills because it lasts forever. The material itself can endlessly be reused, but there are many constraints that make glass end up in landfills. So ensuring the glass that doesn’t have to be there makes its way to the correct place, is an important part of recycling. The reality in Canada is that not all glass is recycled. While 93 per cent of consumers expect their household glass to be recyclable, there are many glass items that simply can’t be recovered. 

While Canadian jurisdictions vary on how they handle glass, glass items can often be put on the path to recycling by way of a curbside bin or dropping them off at a recycling depot. But before you can jump onto WhichBin and figure out what to do with yours, here are some general guidelines to follow.

How is glass recycled?

Contrary to the fact that not a lot of glass is recycled, it is a good candidate for reuse. Glass is made of three naturally occurring ingredients — limestone, sand, and soda ash — along with cullet, which is recycled glass that’s been crushed into a granular state. In fact, using 1 kilogram of cullet can replace 1.2 kilograms of new raw material. Reusing recycled material reduces the amount of virgin raw materials that are needed to produce new glass products.

Not only are the materials easy to work with, but there are four simple steps to recycling glass that makes it ideal for manufacturers. Once glass has been collected and made its way to a recycling facility, it goes through four simple steps to be recycled:

  1. The glass is first crushed, sorted by colour (if required), and all unwanted contaminants are removed.
  2. The crushed glass is then mixed with any raw material that will colour and/or enhance the final product.
  3. The crushed glass and raw materials are melted in a furnace.
  4. The melted material is moulded or blown into the final product.

What types of glass are recyclable? 

While not all glass is recyclable, there are some common household items that can be remade into a future glass product.

What are they, you ask? Generally speaking, you can recycle glass bottles and glass jars. In the glass jar category, you’re usually able to recycle things like:

  • Pickle jars
  • Salsa jars
  • Pasta jars
  • Olive and cooking oil bottles
  • Apple sauce jars
  • Jam jars
  • Soda bottles

And while that takes care of a lot of your kitchen glass, that still leaves you with a whole lot of materials that simply can’t be recyclable. 

What types of glass are not recyclable?

Despite having an easy recycling process and being made of recyclable material, there is a lot of glass that is too challenging to recycle. For two primary reasons:

  1. Glass used in drinking glasses and window panes have a different chemical composition that melts at a much higher temperature than your standard household jar. This means that it can’t easily and safely be melted with other glass.
  2. Glass that has been mixed with other material cannot be easily recycled. Because of the delicacy of glass, it’s often broken during transport and ends up being hard or even impossible to properly separate from other materials which means it cannot be sorted.

Unfortunately, the list of glass items that cannot be recycled is longer than the list of those that can. Household glass items that you cannot recycle include:

  • Drinking glasses, glass wear, dish wear, crystal glasses tea pots, coffee mugs, and carafes
  • Pyrex glass containers
  • Glass blown art, decorative glass, ornaments, and vases
  • Lab beakers and vials
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Fish tanks and aquariums
  • Glass trophies, awards, or other plaques
  • Light fixtures
  • Window panes, windshields, and stained glass
  • Mirrors and picture frames
  • Tempered glass
  • Ceramic and porcelain

If you have any of these items and they’re still in good condition, donating them is always a good option. Otherwise, they belong in your regular old garbage. If broken, make sure to wrap them properly before tossing it in the trash so no one gets hurts along the way.

Taking strides towards better recycling

Answering the question “is glass recyclable” is a bit complex. Yes, glass is recyclable — but not all of the glass in your house can be thrown into your recycling bin. 

Many of the glass containers that homeowners conscientiously wash and rinse before placing in their blue bin end up not being recycled because they end up breaking. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. 

Making sure your glass items end up in the right place so they have the best chance of being recycled is one way to help keep unnecessary items out of our landfills. A  new year means a new opportunity to up your sustainability efforts, and GarbageDay wants to help you out. Check out our app weekly to get tips and tricks for your home!

Download the GarbageDay app today!​

Never miss your local waste and recycling collection day again! GarbageDay helps keep you up-to-date on your city's collection schedule with timely reminders letting you know which bin to take out as well as tips and tricks to enjoy a more sustainable and eco-friendly home.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.

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