Is broken glass biodegradable? (3 ways glass is better than plastics)
The article will answer the question if broken glass is biodegradable or not. It will also cover aspects such as:
- Is broken glass compostable?
- Is broken glass eco-friendly?
- How to dispose of broken glass?
Is broken glass biodegradable?
Broken glass is not biodegradable despite being made from natural materials. Glass is made from limestone, ash, and sand and that is why it would not be incorrect to say that glass 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 glass is non-biodegradable but plant-based materials are.
Is broken glass degradable?
Since broken glass is not biodegradable, it does mean that broken glass is not degradable. There is a subtle difference between degradable and biodegradable and the difference is that of microbes.
The primary point of discrepancy is that biodegradation is caused by microbes whereas degradation may be caused by external conditions such as pressure, temperature et cetera.
In fact, it would not be wrong to say that broken glass is a form of degraded glass as it breaks after the application of external pressure which is what degradation is.
How long does glass require to decompose?
Let us head toward the important question which is how much time is required by the glass to degrade and decompose. When it comes to that, the figures are considerably staggering.
It is estimated that broken glass or plain glass may require more than 4,000 years to degrade. It would not be wrong to say that broken glass takes almost never to decompose and that is why we need to go for other options available to us.
Can you compost glass?
It is also wondered and inquired if it is possible to compost glass, after all, it is made from natural materials. However, it is not possible to compost glass because glass is 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 glass, 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 glass.
Is glass 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.
The comparative perspective (3 ways glass is better than plastics)
In terms of the comparative perspective, it can be said that glass is eco-friendly because 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.
Glass is better than plastics based on the following points:
- 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
The absolute perspective
Although glass is made from natural materials such as sand, limestone, and ash; even then, glass can not be given the status of being absolutely eco-friendly because the process that is used to make glass 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.
How to dispose of glass?
We all know that broken glass is of no use to anyone and therefore, we need to be aware of what is the right way of disposing of glass.
Is glass a hazardous waste?
Yes, glass can be a hazardous waste if it was used and produced in that particular way. For example, if the broken glass that you have is from a bulb then the glass would be categorised as hazardous waste.
However, if the glass that you have was broken from your vanity mirror then you need to fret not and can treat glass as a normal waste but with care.
If the glass is hazardous waste, then it is better to segregate it and not mix it with other household waste. You may give it to hazardous waste programs or hazardous waste recycling facilities.
Should glass waste be handled with care?
Once you have ensured that the glass waste (broken glass) is not hazardous, the next thing you need to confirm is how to deal with glass waste.
As it turns out, care must be done while handling and disposing of glass 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 glass waste in bags while ensuring that there is firm segregation so that no harm is done. But, it has been said that disposing of glass means burdening landfills for about 4,000 years. Therefore, it is best to recycle it instead of throwing it in regular trash cans.
Can broken glass be recycled?
Glass can be recycled be it hazardous or non-hazardous. Not only is it possible but it is also advisable as you can recycle glass endlessly. However, the case of broken glass varies slightly.
All you need to do is to find out the source of the glass. If the source is hazardous, you may need to contact the hazardous waste management & recycling facilities. In many localities, there are also hazardous waste management pick-up points that you can benefit from.
If the source is inert, then you hand it to your local recycling programs and nearby facilities. However, it is not advisable to throw broken glass in recycling bins as it can harm the people associated with managing garbage. If you do, use cardboard paper or newspaper to properly wrap it before disposing of.
However, as said, the case of broken glass may vary as it may not be accepted for recycling. In this case, there are two options that you can do:
- Cover the broken glass with newspaper or cardboard and label it glass
- Contact private recycling ventures such as Terracycle that may accept broken glass and recycle it
It is concluded that broken glass is not biodegradable as it is made from inorganic material although it is made from natural material.
The article also discussed if glass can be composted or not and a verdict was given in that regard too. The eco-friendliness of broken glass was also deliberated.
Lastly, various disposal options for broken glass were discussed that included recycling and disposal in regular trash cans.
- EcoFreek. Is glass biodegradable? Retrieved from: https://ecofreek.com/biodegradable/is-glass-biodegradable/#How_Do_I_Recycle_Glass
- Is glass biodegradable? Retrieved from: https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/is-glass-biodegradable.php
- How to dispose of broken glass? Retrieved from: https://library.austintexas.libguides.com/recycling#!rc-cpage=44799