Are broken mirrors biodegradable? (5 reuses)

The article will explain if broken mirrors are biodegradable or not. Other topics covered would include:

  • Can you compost mirrors?
  • Are mirrors eco-friendly?
  • Are mirrors hazardous waste?
  • How to handle broken mirrors?
  • Can broken mirrors be recycled?
  • How to reuse broken mirrors?

Are broken mirrors biodegradable?

Broken mirrors are not biodegradable despite being made from natural materials. The mirror is made from limestone, ash, sand, and a reflective coating of metals and that is why it would not be incorrect to say that the mirror is made from natural and abundant sources. 

Biodegradation is the breakdown that is caused by the action of microbes and as a result, the waste can become a part of nature again. Biodegradation ensures that there is no waste generation and accumulation. 

However, the microbes that cause biodegradation also require something in return. What they want is food and their food is organic content. That is the very reason why mirrors are non-biodegradable but plant-based materials are. 

Let us head toward the important question which is how much time is required by the mirror to degrade and decompose. When it comes to that, the figures are considerably staggering. 

It is estimated that a broken mirror or plain mirror may require more than 4,000 years to degrade. It would not be wrong to say that a broken mirror takes almost never to decompose and that is why we need to go for other options available to us. 

How to handle broken mirrors?

As it turns out, care must be done while handling and disposing of mirror waste as it can damage the people who come in contact with such as healthcare workers or garbage collectors. 

Therefore, it is best to pack the broken mirror waste in bags while ensuring that there is firm segregation so that no harm is done. But, it has been said that disposing of a mirror means burdening landfills for about 4,000 years. Therefore, it is best to reuse or repurpose it instead of throwing it in regular trash cans.

However, if you must throw a broken mirror in trash cans then you need to follow the proper protocol that includes wrapping broken mirrors in newspaper layers or cardboard material so that it is ensured that no one is harmed. Also, it is advised to properly label the waste so that the waste may be handled with care. 

Can broken mirrors be recycled?

In this case, there is much good news here as broken mirrors can not be recycled. The main reason is that a broken mirror can potentially damage the recycling facilities and workers working in it and that is why it is very unlikely that you can have the broken mirror recycled. 

This comes as a surprise because a mirror is made from glass and has a reflective coating of steel or aluminium. All these can be recycled, but combined together, the mirror can not be recycled with other glass as both have different melting points and recycling mirrors will require a different facility. Another factor is the reflective coating that makes recycling not possible. 

Therefore, the best that you can do is to ensure that the mirrors are used carefully as such that there is no waste produced. However, if there is, then you may follow the standard protocol of disposing of the broken mirror as discussed above that included the careful wrapping, packing and labelling of the broken mirror. 

Is a broken mirror of any use? (5 reuses) 

Yes, there are other uses as well that you can incline on to make sure to get the most from a broken mirror. As it turns out, mirrors and even broken mirrors can be used for creative, decorational, and arts & crafts use. Other reuses include:

  • Wallart
  • Jewellery organiser
  • Decoration of old furniture
  • Making a picture frame
  • Use it for fence aesthetics 

What you can do here is to either use a broken mirror yourself for creative purposes. If not, you can contact a local art store or antique store and see if they accept broken mirrors to reuse. This way, you will not need to put the broken mirror in trash cans that can either damage the workers or burden the landfills for more than 4,000 years. 

Can you compost mirrors?

It is also wondered if it is possible to compost mirrors, after all, it is made from natural materials. However, it is not possible to compost mirrors because mirrors are inorganic in nature. 

The main idea behind composting is to utilise the organic waste so that the result may be used as a fertiliser to improve the organic content of the soil to achieve the benefits such as water conservation, better production, and increased yield. 

However, in the case of mirrors, there is no organic inside that can be harnessed to achieve the said advantages and therefore, it can be said that it is not possible to compost mirrors. 

Are mirrors eco-friendly?

The exact answer to this depends on the frame or perspective from which the answer is sought. There are two main perspectives and the article will shed light on both of them. 

When we look at the other options available, there is a sense of dejection and despondency that is curated and cultivated. 

For example, let us take the case of plastics. The example of plastics is important because plastics is a very commonly used material and chances are that around 50% or more things around you will be made from plastics. 

A mirror is made from plastic. Let us, therefore, compare plastics with glass. 

  • Glass is made from abundant, natural sources whereas plastics are made from non-renewable resources
  • Glass is easier to be recycled as it can be recycled multiple times while in the case of plastics recycling is not that feasible
  • Glass can be used for a long duration of time. You must remember the old jars that are used in your homes to store old material. Whereas more than 40% of the plastics are intended for single use only

Although the mirror is made from natural materials such as sand, limestone, and ash; even then, mirrors can not be given the status of being absolutely eco-friendly because the process that is used to make mirrors is very energy-intensive. 

This means that there is a huge consumption of energy which indirectly implies the release of GHGs and other harmful gases leading to environmental anomalies such as global warming, pollution, and deforestation– to name a few.  

Are mirrors hazardous waste?

No, mirrors cannot be said to be hazardous waste because there is no use of harmful material that can harm and damage the environment. 

However, the same can not be said about glass because glass can be hazardous depending on the source they are from. For example, if the glass is used for bulbs, then its waste will be hazardous but if the glass is used for mirrors, its waste would not be considered hazardous. 


It is concluded that broken mirrors are not biodegradable as it is made from inorganic material although it is made from natural material. 

The article also discussed if mirrors can be composted or not and a verdict was given in that regard too. The eco-friendliness of broken mirrors was also deliberated. 

Lastly, various disposal options for broken mirrors were discussed that included recycling and disposal in regular trash cans and reusing. 


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