Are broken tiles biodegradable? (5 ways to dispose of) 

The article will discuss if broken tiles are biodegradable or not. Other topics covered will include:

  • Can you recycle broken tiles?
  • Can you upcycle broken tiles?
  • How to dispose of broken tiles?
  • How to reuse broken tiles?
  • Can you compost broken tiles?
  • How long do broken tiles take to decompose?

Are broken tiles biodegradable?

No, broken tiles are not biodegradable because they do not contain the essential natural or organic inside that the microbes can process. 

Biodegradation is the breakdown caused by the microbes in a way that waste is converted into simpler material that can become a part of nature again. However, the microbes can only break down material that is both natural and organic. 

If we explore the case of broken tiles, we first need to properly know what materials are used to make tiles. When it comes, we find ourselves in a pool of various options such as:

  • Ceramic
  • Plastic
  • Asbestos
  • Glass
  • Clay
  • Porcelain
  • Marble 
  • Granite 

Therefore, it is rather unequivocal to say that when it comes to the manufacture of tiles, there are many candidates available. However, it also is clear that only one can be the winner. When it comes to that, our winner is ceramic tiles. 

Ceramic tiles are made from natural materials such as clay, sand, and water. It may be wondered that if ceramic tiles are natural, why can they not degrade? The simplest answer is that ceramic tiles can not biodegrade because they are natural but inorganic in nature while microbes can only digest organic material under natural circumstances. 

What to do with broken tiles? (5 ways to dispose of) 

Since we are talking about broken tiles, it is very clear that many people are tempted to simply throw away the broken tiles without any second thought. While it may be convenient to do so, it is anything but convenient for the environment and health of the people around. 

When broken tiles are disposed of recklessly, they may be ignored in a landfill and since tiles are non-biodegradable, they may remain there for many years. 

When this happens, the waste problem (which is already very exacerbated) gets worse which deepens the notion of environmental problems that we have that include global warming, the greenhouse effect, and climate change– to name a few. 

Therefore, we need to explore ways through which we can avoid this situation and properly utilise the broken tiles. Some of the ways that you can explore are:

  • Reusing
  • Upcycling
  • Recycling
  • Selling
  • Donating

Let us explore these options in detail. 

Reusing broken tiles

It may appear absurd but it is actually possible to reuse broken tiles. Many times, people are too quick to judge and therefore, they are unable to get full from their tiles. 

In many cases, the broken tiles are not that damaged as such that they can not be used. There are various creative ways to explore such as broken tiles that may be reused in other parts of the house. 

You may also get a bit creative and paint the cracks in a way to turn them into art. Not only will this improve the aesthetic touch in your house but it will also help the environment. 

Upcycling broken tiles

Upcycling broken tiles is another efficient way to make sure that the broken tiles do not end up in a landfill and remain there for several years. 

When it comes to upcycling, there are actually no limits to your creativity. You may use the broken tiles for a plethora of uses such as arts, and crafts, decorative purposes, and increasing the aesthetic sense of your home. The vibrant and sober colours of the ceramic tiles are always a great addition if used accordingly. 

Also, you can also consider painting the broken tiles. This way, you can reuse them as tiles too but with a modified look of course. 

Recycling broken tiles

The recycling of broken tiles is another great way to help the environment because when tiles are recycled, they are not needed to be processed from a new state. This means that there are benefits such as resource conservation, energy conservation, and less waste. 

However, many people wonder if you can actually recycle broken tiles. Yes, you can but not every time and everywhere. It is a possibility that some recycling centres would not accept tiles for recycling because some recycling machinery may not be able to handle it. 

Therefore, you need to check on and confirm with your local recycling centre/program to see if they accept broken tiles. If they do not, then you may need to contact third-party recycling ventures such as Terracycle. 

Donating & selling

You can also consider either selling the broken tiles as many construction shops can put the tiles to good use. Chances are that you may get a decent remuneration for your broken tiles.  

However, if selling is not an option, you can donate it. This way, you will ensure that the tiles are put to good use and utilised efficiently instead of ending up in landfills; a noble way to do that!

Can you compost broken tiles?

Since tiles (including ceramic tiles made from natural material) can not biodegrade, it is also not possible to put the tiles in a compost pile. 

It had been reviewed that tiles may be made from several materials including plastics, glass, porcelain, and ceramic. While the verdict in the case of non-natural materials like plastics is quite straightforward; it gets a bit convoluted in the case of ceramic tiles as they are made of natural material. 

However, since ceramic tiles do not contain the organic inside, it is not possible to put these tiles in the compost heap as microbes won’t be able to break them down. Above all, the main application of compost is to improve the organic content of the soil. 

How long do broken tiles take to degrade?

Here again, the answer will vary based on the material used. If we talk about the most commonly used material which is ceramic tiles, it will take about 10,000 years to decompose which is a synonym for never! 

However, the degradation time may be lower in the case of other materials such as plastics or asbestos as they may require around 1000 years to decompose. 

The bottom line is that broken tiles should not be disposed of like regular trash as they literally take thousands of years to degrade and decompose. Greener alternatives (discussed above) should be preferred. 


It is concluded that broken tiles are not biodegradable. They may be made from many materials but the most common material is ceramic. 

The article discussed various ways by which broken tiles could be utilised that included recycling, upcycling, donation, sale, and reuse. 

The article also addressed some eminent associated questions such as the composting aspect and how long broken tiles take to degrade. 


  • How Long Does It Takes For 60+ Common Items to Decompose? Retrieved from

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