I have a 2x1 meter (0.3cm width) glass door that I need to dispose of. The recycling center told me they do not accept such large items. So, I need to break it into smaller pieces, to be thrown into the glass recycling bin (where glass bottles go).

Thus, I need a safe and handy method to break the glass. Safe because I don't want to hurt myself whilst breaking the glass. Handy because I do not want to spread the glass everywhere. Recall I need to throw it into the recycling bin.

Regarding the size of the glass, the recycling bin can take glass chips, but it can also handle larger bits (e.g. 10x10 cm).

Below is the method I am thinking of. I hide it so it doesn't "prime" your ideas. You might want to think this from scratch.

What I'm thinking of now is to cover the glass in a plastic membrane, put it in the floor lying down, and then with a hammer, hit the glass. This would protect me from glass bits and also help as a transport method.

  • 28
    Float-glass (like your pane) and the type of glass used for bottles do not mix well, with the float-glass being the problem here. That is also a reason why the holes in the recycling bin for bottles are so small. The main reason for the recycling center to refuse your plane might be exactly that, they don't collect float-glass, at least not in large amounts. So crushing the pane and stuffing the shards into the bottle bins is probably not what the recycling center wants (they want to sell the glass and get less money per ton if the contamination is too high). Jul 28, 2018 at 17:06
  • 2
    If you weren't wanting to bag and recycle it (if I recall, glass is made of the most abundant compound in the Earth's crust) you might be able to put it in your trash can and force it to break inside that with low risk to yourself and the surroundings.
    – Michael
    Jul 28, 2018 at 20:58
  • 4
    I am pretty sure the glass recycling centre won't accept broken glass. Make sure of this before you break it. Jul 29, 2018 at 4:27
  • 8
    @Valorum I don't think you have ever tried breaking sheet glass. Safety gloves only protect about 1% of your body surface. It's the other 99% that is the problem! IMO The OP's best bet would be to try to find a window-repair company that will collect it. They know how to handle large sheets of glass without injuring themselves. We don't want the OP's next question to be "how to get invisible tiny glass shards out of my eyes/ears/nose/wherever …" !!!
    – alephzero
    Jul 29, 2018 at 14:37
  • 3
    @deamentiaemundi depending on the amount of contamination the amount paid can go to 0. MY country recycling center no longer takes glass bottle because 1 wrong color bottle/truckload resulted in a $0 payout and despite separate bins for clear/green/brown glass it happened often enough that they weren't covering transportation costs to the glass company. Jul 30, 2018 at 14:26

7 Answers 7


If you are not in a hurry you could try selling the glass to someone in one piece. Put it on craigslist or facebook or whatever local buy/sell service is popular where you live. Who knows, maybe someone in your city would get some use out of it? You are probably not going to get much money for it, but someone might be willing to come and pick it up. It does not get much safer and cleaner than that. (but you might have to wait quite a while to find a buyer)

Reuse is usually better than recycling.

  • 11
    Some are always on the watch for value. A glass door such as yours could save someone a lot of money if bought used rather than new.
    – Stan
    Jul 28, 2018 at 17:55
  • 22
    You can always list it for free, that way you got rid of it, did someone a favor and didn't spend to much money or effort on it. winwin
    – Vahx
    Jul 29, 2018 at 8:22
  • While highly rated, this answer won't apply to 99% of cases as there is rarely a "reuse" for a specifically made piece of tempered glass, like a door. You cannot recycle tempered glass. You could break it and perhaps run it through a tumbler to make some landscaping.
    – Wyrmwood
    Feb 25 at 0:24

I am not a big fan of uncontrolled shattering of the glass - shards everywhere and it’s hard to control, even within a bag or box.

I recommend you get a (diamond) glass cutter to neatly cut up the pane. Get a largish piece of cardboard and place it under the glass. Do a few straight cuts until the pane pieces are small enough to fit into your recycling bin or are acceptable for the recycling center. You can easily handle the pieces because they don’t have jagged (but nevertheless sharp) edges. Placing a wooden dowel unter the pane at the cut can help with breaking the glass.

  • 18
    Glass doors are tempered. You can't cut them - the glass will just shatter.
    – brhans
    Jul 29, 2018 at 2:07
  • 2
    Yes, the thickness of 3mm means that is probably tempered (laminated safety glass would be 6mm or more). Look here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempered_glass And, as already mentioned, do NOT put it into the recycling bin. It will contaminate the glass bottle glass and prevent recycling of the bottles. It would be much more environmentally friendly to dump it into the regular trash can. uLoop's suggestion is, of course, the best option.
    – Klaws
    Jul 30, 2018 at 7:48
  • Technically, it doesn't shatter either. It disintegrates into small pieces, by design.
    – Wyrmwood
    Feb 25 at 0:31

The best way to break glass in a safe and easily disposable manner is to duct tape the entire large face of the glass. when the glass is broken the pieces will not shatter all over the place but instead, stick to the tape and can be managed easily. Still to prevent any unintended small splinters, do this on a flat concrete surface (Tape side up) and be sure to shopvac the area when done. If it is tempered you can roll up the pane and throw it in the trash. If it is not tempered the shards can be peeled off and disposed of. Use PPE at your own discretion.

  • 1
    Wouldn't this prevent OP from recycling it though? Jul 30, 2018 at 13:21

A plastic membrane would probably get cut up by the glass. Shards of glass would fall through it while you're transporting it. That would be dangerous.

I suggest going to the recycling center to see if you can get a large cardboard box - one large enough to fit the sheet of glass. A refrigerator box would be ideal, but also maybe a giant TV box may fit.

Bring the box home. Tape any openings thoroughly, except for the "top". Put the glass in it, and seal the top with more packing tape. If the box has one dimension that is not very deep - like a TV box - then you can break the glass inside it with a few strikes of a hammer. If the box is long in all 3 dimensions, like a refrigerator box, then you should be able to break the glass safely by dropping the box on the ground, on its side, a few times.

Bring the whole box CAREFULLY back to the recycling center. Bring a box cutter or scissors with you. At the recycling center, cut open the top of the box, and gently pour the broken glass into the recycling container. Also recycle the box there, if they will allow it. Otherwise, take the box (which may have glass pieces in it) to a garbage dump.


If you cannot find one large box that will fit the sheet of glass, you can get two smaller boxes that are at least 1m by 1m. Then, at home, you can put one over the bottom half of the glass, and another over the top half of the glass, and tape them together in the middle.

enter image description here

  • Sorry, I don't get the mechanism: "break the glass inside it with a few strikes of a hammer." But the box is sealed! How do you do it, without breaking the box with the hammer too?
    – luchonacho
    Jul 28, 2018 at 13:19
  • @luchonacho Good point! I was picturing a box that is not very deep, like a TV box. But the hammer technique would not work with a box with more space in it, like a refrigerator box. I edited my answer, and I will add more techniques if I think of them. Jul 28, 2018 at 13:21
  • 4
    Great illustration, IMHO.
    – Stan
    Jul 28, 2018 at 17:51

Wrap it in an old blanket or tarpaulin, don gloves and safety goggles and good footwear, place it across two trestles, then drop a sledgehammer on it, then empty the contents of the blanket carefully into a bin.

I've done that with window glass. But if this is a glass door, then it's probably safety glass, which isn't going to shatter so easily. That means (a) it's safer, and (b) it's harder to break up.

Perhaps freecycle is a better option.

  • This is the best answer, and exactly what I did. For tempered glass, hit it at a corner to get a controlled disintegration.
    – Wyrmwood
    Feb 25 at 0:29

Pay someone to dispose of it correctly

This is going to be a lot of hassle, for many reasons listed in the other answers such as:

  • The door is likely tempered and therefore won't cut easily
  • Breaking up glass is fraught with risk of losing bits and then stepping on it later.
  • It doesn't mix well with the kind of glass that goes in the bottle banks and you could likely contaminate that glass and require even more rubbish in landfill.

So with all that taken into account, just find a company and pay someone directly who has the experience and knowledge to safely dispose of it. There are likely many companies near and around you that you could find.

  • Tempered glass is not recyclable. If you pay someone to take it, you can just about guarantee it ends up at the dump.
    – Wyrmwood
    Feb 25 at 0:30

Is there a habitat for humanity near you? If so, contact them and see if they can use it or suggest a place to donate it to.

Churches might have ideas also.

At the recycling center near me they have an area with shelves where you can put unwanted stuff others might use (instead of just being disposed of).

  • Tempered glass is not recyclable. If you pay someone to take it, you can just about guarantee it ends up at the dump.
    – Wyrmwood
    Feb 25 at 0:30

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