How to Recycle Glass Windows & Doors

There's a market for attractive old windows.
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Not all glass is the same, with that used for windows and doors having a different composition than the glass of bottles and jars. For this reason, recycling facilities may specify that they do not accept construction glass. Of course, it’s still recyclable -- all glass can be recycled indefinitely -- but you might need to spend a bit of time locating suitable facilities.

Removal

Remove, or ask a builder to remove, the window or door carefully, preserving its frame. It’s often possible to sell intact windows or doors, especially if they are old or decorative. At this point, determine the condition of the item in its entirety. If the condition is reasonably good, you should be able to sell or donate it. Clean the glass part carefully with window cleaner and use wood or metal polish for the frame, if the item is in good condition. If, however, the frame has rotted or there is substantial damage to the glass, recycling might be the only option.

Selling and Donating

Advertise the door or window for sale, online or in local newspapers. Alternatively contact specialist dealers in your area. If you find it difficult to sell, which might be the case with a relatively new or plain item, consider donating it to a local charity or nonprofit. Some might need building materials for their own offices while others specialize in building low-cost housing and should welcome practical donations of this sort. Wrap doors or windows containing glass in old blankets or bubble wrap when transporting them to prevent breakages.

Recycling

Separate the glass from the frame, if the item is damaged beyond repair. Wooden frames consist of organic material and sometimes can be composted if any paint is scraped off and the wood broken into small pieces. Metal frames and the glass itself can be sold (or, if necessary, given) to scrap dealers. Check the websites of local government if you’re finding recycling the glass difficult -- some areas have recycling facilities for all sorts of unusual items. It is not just window and door glass that shouldn’t go in normal recycling facilities. The glass of drinking glasses, pans, ovens and indeed pretty much anything that is not a jar or bottle is likely to have an unusual composition and may require specialist recycling.

Other Options

If you lean towards craft projects, consider reusing the glass in your own home, for example, a glass-topped coffee table. It could also be used for art projects, by yourself or artists in your community. As a last resort, take the window or door to landfill. Don’t break up the glass and place it in standard recycling facilities, where it could contaminate the rest, or with general household garbage -- broken glass poses a risk to workers.

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