Is Ceramic Recyclable?

Is It Possible To Recycle Ceramic - Ceramic Rectangular Plate by Artist Ed Shears
Is It Possible To Recycle Ceramic? – Ceramic Rectangular Plate by Artist Ed Shears

Is It Possible To Recycle Ceramic?

Ceramic cannot be melted down in recycling waste facilities. Ceramics are sometimes accepted by recycling facilities that take brick, concrete, and other construction waste materials. Ceramics have very high melting temperatures, much higher than metals and polymers, because of their high bond strengths. The melting point of most ceramics and glass is above 2000°C thus not cost-effective to recycle.

Why Ceramics Are Not Recycled

In addition to the above-mentioned reasons, there are other reasons why ceramics are not recycled. Here is what I have researched. According to Waste Management, ceramics such as coffee mugs and plates in a batch of standard curbside recyclable glass can weaken the recycled product, which is why ceramics are typically not accepted. Ceramic is technically recyclable. When ceramics are recycled, they are crushed and utilized as rock bases for roadways and drainage systems. They can also be broken and spun to smooth the edges so that they can be used as gravel. I call this repurposing.

Ceramic, if mixed in with other recycling products, can break before being sorted at a recycling center. This causes other recyclables to be contaminated with tiny ceramic chips and therefore may be discarded. It causes the rest of the recycles to be weakened.

Ceramics are heavy and this increases transportation when combined with other heavy materials like glass. The cost gets to be too much and we end up spending more energy than it’s worth hauling and cleaning and prepping to be crushed into dust to be turned into a product. There are much easier and more economical ways like repurposing.

When processing, the sharp edges of broken pottery provide a risk of cutting employees. That is the same reason that recycling centers typically do not take broken glass.

How Can I Recycle My Discarded Ceramic Pottery?


1. Donate Or Sell Instead of Recycling Ceramic

The best thing you can do with ceramics is to donate them if they are still in good condition and reusable. Another idea is to sell them if they have any value.

Even if your local recycling center does not accept ceramics or non-container glass, your discarded dinnerware or pottery does not have to end up in a landfill. Ceramics are almost always appreciated for reuse in thrift stores or consignment shops.

See if a local thrift shop would take them, but make sure to notify the manager they are chipped before you hand them over, otherwise the staff may just throw the ceramics in the dumpster after you leave and you will have wasted your time.

2. Repurpose Instead Of Recycling Ceramic

The best way to dispose of ceramics is to reuse them by repurposing them. One of the easiest ways is to crush ceramic into tiny pieces and use the pieces as building fill material. Larger ceramic pieces can us used to fill in landscaping and or driveways or roads. However, breaking them up and use the pieces as building rubble will only work if you are planning on doing some building.

This reminds me of a time when I was building a house and needed fill material to put under the front porch. They enclosed the porch in concrete blocks with fill material places in the center, then concrete poured over the top. Many builders will throw in building materials to fill in the space and avoid having to take construction materials to the dump.

Ceramic objects cannot be melted to prepare the material for new purposes in contrast to glass, paper, and plastic. The machine needed to break down scraps to a usable size is expensive and only very practicable when industrial quantities such as building scraps are processed.

If you can crush ceramic and it contains no sharp edges, you can use it as colorful edging or gravel in your garden. You can lay it down like a paving material.

Use shattered ceramic pieces as drainage on the bottom of your pots rather than gravel. But be careful and watch for flying pottery shards. They are harmful, so make sure to wrap the ceramic or pottery first in fabric or newspapers before whacking with a hammer.

And lastly, use colorful pieces to produce a mosaic or discover a local artist that uses ceramics and donate them.

Is It Possible To Compost Broken Ceramics As A Way Of Recycling?

All pottery is formed from clay, and you would think it would be OK to compost it, but it is not. There are several factors that prohibit ceramics from being compostable.

Clay is not organic, as you know. Clay is a mineral. In ceramic clay, there are no plants or animals so that the compost heap can naturally break down. Also, consider that some ceramics are older than 20 000 years old. Some of the oldest ceramic art known to man has been excavated. There are vases from the Roman era that have been excavated. You would have to crush the ceramic into small bits. I am talking dust to make it part of the earth.

Commercially produced kitchenware and plates are ceramic glazed. The glaze applied to clay before firing is a paint. And traces of pain in your compost are not good. Some commercial clay contain the same problems as paint but with synthetic additions.

Ed Shears

Now, all that being said, there are some ceramics and pottery that are more environmentally friendly. Typical ceramics created in small studios by hand using non-toxic clay and glazes like mine.

Two of my favorites are Mayco Stroke and coat Wonderglaze and Duncan Underglaze. With 3 solid coatings, or when a food-safe finish is placed on them, they are non-toxic and food-safe. Mayco is Food Safe, has No Lead or cadmium, Conforms to ASTM D-4236, AP Certified Non-Toxic and inter-mixable colors.

Plus, I use green energy to form my ceramics. No power shaping equipment is used here. Just two hands. The good thing about ceramics is that the life span of ceramic is much longer than plastics and looks ten times better. So although they contribute to the landfill, I feel they are a little more environmentally friendly than other options.


What is the difference between Terracotta and Clay? Terracotta is clay that has been shaped and fired, whereas clay is a raw substance. Earthenware clay has the brown-orange hue associated with the name, but terracotta objects can be made of any type of organic clay. Terracotta objects with low-temperature firing have a porous and permeable surface.


Conclusion To Is Ceramic Recyclable

Ceramics are sometimes accepted by recycling facilities that take brick, concrete, and other construction waste materials. Ceramics have very high melting temperatures, much higher than metals and polymers, because of their high bond strengths. The melting point of most ceramics is above 2000°C thus not possible to recycle.

In my opinion, the best way to recycle ceramics is to repurpose them.

References
https://www.wm.com/us/en