You surely have some ceramic mugs, plates, and bowls in your home. But what do you do when the ceramics cracks or break, or when you wish you could throw them out? Have you thought of recycling them? And is ceramic recyclable?
Ceramic is recyclable. But sometimes, most local recycling centers do not accept ceramic as they require more technical processes than glass or other materials. And the machines are not strong enough to grind ceramic. In that case, you can take them to commercial recycling centers or recycle them in other ways.
Now this problem raises various questions. If the recycling centers do not accept them, how else can you recycle them? Will ceramic decompose, and how long does it take? I researched all those, and today I will talk about what I have found out.
Are Ceramic Mugs Recyclable?
When was the last time you replaced your ceramic coffee mug? You probably never even thought about it. I know it’s tough to let go of your favorite mug. But if the ceramic is chipped, it is time to do so.
Most ceramics contain glaze on the surface. So when it gets cracked or chipped, the exposed glaze becomes dangerous for you. So it would be best if you avoided drinking from that mug.
Besides, such a mug can cut your mouth, and the dripping coffee from the cracked area will only make things worse. The right thing to do is to recycle them rather than throwing them out.
So, how do you recycle it?
The best way to recycle ceramic mugs is to take them to recycle centers. Your local recycle center may refuse to take them as they do not often have the right processing tool. Recycling ceramics requires more robust material than the ones they use for glass and porcelain.
That’s why it is best to take them to commercial recycling centers. And to save your time and hassle, I suggest you wait till you gather a few more ceramic wares and take them all at once for recycling.
Are Ceramic Dishes Recyclable?
Ceramic dishes are more common than dishes made of glass and other materials. Most of us use them because they are more aesthetic and often suitable for warming food in the microwave.
One of the many reasons ceramic dishes end up in the recycle bin is because they become unsuitable for use. It can happen when you accidentally break or crack the dishes while washing. Sometimes, the little ones around the house love serving plates during meals, and they slip.
Then how do you get rid of them? Broken ceramics have sharp edges. So throwing them in the bins is not safe for the person who collects garbage and goes through them later. That’s why you have to try recycling them.
You can recycle ceramic plates in various ways. You can give them to your local recycling center for that. However, it is normal for them to reject ceramic as they often lack the right machine to grind and process the ceramic dishes. So you can try taking them to commercial recycling centers.
Is Ceramic Tile Recyclable?
Ceramic tiles are widely used at home, offices, and almost any other constructional place. That’s why it becomes vital to recycle and reuse these items when necessary. Thus, ceramic tiles have become one of the recyclable items.
Recycling companies use massive grinding machines to break them into amorphous form or powder. Sometimes, they use flat tamping tools or big hammers. Since ceramics are made of clay, the amorphous form of ceramic becomes a part of the landfill where they are distributed.
What To Do With Broken Ceramics?
There is nothing worse than seeing your favorite ceramic piece broken or getting chipped. But what is more heartbreaking than that is throwing them out.
Of course, some will think it is better to get rid of them through recycling. But if you hate throwing out favorite things even if they’re broken or want to use them in another way, there are some solutions for you. Here is how to reuse or repurpose those broken ceramics.
Turn It On Its Side
If we are talking about ceramic planters or any other big ceramic object, this one is the best way to reuse that broken piece. If it broke partially, try placing it on its side, leaving the broken part upward.
You can set it up in your backyard garden or plant it on the ground. They often work as aesthetic planters even if they are broken. You can add some soil and ground plants to bring a more creative look.
If the ceramic is completely broken, get yourself a hammer and break them some more while wearing eye protection. You can now place them inside a new planter and give the plants a better drainage system. It is better than using rocks as the rocks are heavier than broken ceramic pieces.
If the broken ceramic is colorful, turning them into mosaics is the best way to reuse them. It is pretty much like a DIY project and an excellent way to spend your afternoon.
You need to use some tools and equipment to do this. But I’m pretty sure most of them are available in your home, except the tile adhesive and grout. But hey! If you are up for doing something like this, nothing can stop you.
Do not limit yourself. Get creative with those broken ceramic pieces to create new things. You can renew an old tray or flower pot using tile adhesive.
You can also give your old coffee table life with a mosaic top. You can take random broken ceramic pieces and turn them into wind chimes or chandeliers. I have seen someone turning such ceramic pieces into keyrings. Talk about creativity!
Can I Put Broken Ceramics In Compost?
It is natural to think about putting ceramic in compost as they are made of clay. However, there is a thing or two that will make you change your mind.
I’m not saying that you can’t. But hear me out first. Clays are not organic material. On the contrary, they are minerals.
Ceramics do not break down over time in the compost heap. In fact, ceramics do not decompose for thousands of years. It may sound unbelievable, but the oldest known excavated ceramic is around 20,000 years old.
That’s why you need to make sure you crush them into the tiniest pieces, almost like dust, to compost them. It is the best way to turn ceramic into soil. But you do not want glazed ceramic for that as they contain paint and are not suitable for compost.
Is Ceramics Eco-Friendly?
Remember that ceramics are basically clays. So when you break down ceramics, they do not leave any toxic gas in the environment. It does take ceramics a great amount of time to break down. But they are not harmful.
Ceramics are burnt in a kindle of fire. All the soil and water in the clay harden at a high temperature. As a result, they take a longer time to go back to their original form for decomposition. Nevertheless, ceramics are entirely eco-friendly.
How To Recycle Ceramic?
If you have read the previous sections, you already know the answer to ‘is ceramic recyclable’? But then comes another question: how to recycle ceramic?
I have answered this question a few times in short. But let’s discuss this matter in detail, and see what other options you have got.
Here is how you can get the recycling done professionally.
- Find A Recycling Center: Online research is the best way to find a recycling center nearby. Depending on your location, you will be able to find both local and commercial recycling centers.
- Find If They Accept Ceramic: You will find contact details on websites if there are any or from other sources online. Call there or be present physically to speak to a representative. Then ask the person if they accept ceramic.
- Prepare Your Ceramic Items: Once you have found the right company, pack your ceramics. Be extra careful with the broken ones. Even if you are taking them for recycling, you will not want any injury to happen during the process.
- Drop Off The Ceramics: Once you reach your destination, drop off the ceramics in the facility. You can either drop them off by going inside or take the assistance of an employee. Some facilities tend to have a specific spot for people to leave recyclable ceramics.
Thrift Store Donation
Tired of your old ceramic mugs and dishes? How about donating them to thrift stores?
- Check The Ceramic Items: Check the items you want to donate. Look for chipped and cracked areas. Many thrift stores do not accept such objects. But some stores do accept ceramics with hairline crack and chips.
- Pack The Items: Wrap the ceramic items separately with the old newspaper. Try adding more crumpled newspapers inside the transportation box and around each item so that they do not suffer from any damage.
- Take Them To The Store: Always make sure to call beforehand to know if the thrift store accepts the type of goods you want to donate. If the items match their criteria, they will accept them gladly.
You can always use cracked or broken ceramics for different purposes.
- Display: Some ceramics can possess a different value than others. Take a ceramic jewelry box, for example, that you received from someone in the family. Even if it accidentally cracks or breaks partially, you can still keep it inside a shadow box or cabinet for display. These are often passed down from generation to generation.
- Repurpose: You can crush the broken ceramics into small pieces and use them to make a mosaic, steppingstones, plant draining system, etc.
Q. What Characteristics Of Ceramic Make Them Less Readily Recyclable?
Ceramic items already go through a high-temperature process when manufactured. That’s why it is challenging and almost impossible to melt them. The only way to ensure ceramics turn into the soil a little faster is to ground them until they become ultrafine dust.
Q. Is Ceramic Biodegradable?
Ceramic items take way too long to decompose. But it does happen over time when matters are disturbed by nature.
Biodegradable objects are those that decompose by microorganisms. And it happens in a certain period. In that sense, you can say that ceramic items are biodegradable.
I hope by now you have a clear idea about if ceramic is recyclable or not. We all want to save our planet. The more sustainable or recyclable items we use, the better.
Besides, you don’t want to throw your old or broken ceramic into the trash bag and injure someone who will handle it. So it is safer to recycle and reuse ceramics.
Not only does it help improve sustainability, but it also helps you get creative when reusing them by DIY crafts. So go ahead! Show us what you have got in your brilliant mind.