How to Recycle Window Glass

Tree in a field on a sunny day

Glass recycling isn’t exactly a new idea. Hopefully you will have been using your local bottle banks for many years now, and recycling all your sauce jars and bottles wherever and whenever you can. But this isn’t the only sort of glass that can be recycled: the stuff in your window is just as amenable to being melted down, reformed, and ultimately reused.

Can You Recycle Window Glass?

There are a few differences between the glass in your windows and the glass that makes bottles. Window glass is treated using a special combination of heat and chemicals. This makes it more difficult to break, and also gives it a higher melting point. Moreover, when it does melt, those chemicals leak out – which if you’re creating new glass products designed for food and drink storage, is a considerable problem.

The long and short of all of this is that window glass can’t be mixed with general glass recycling. It can be either used to make more windows, or it can be ground into a powder and then used as a bulking agent in cement and concrete. This means putting in a special recycling bin. In the developing world, this requires infrastructure which simply isn’t yet in place. In the UK and Europe, however, the story is a little different. A Europe-wide project is currently underway, which aims to make the recycling of this sort of glass economically viable, and thereby spread the practice.

Recycling Glass Windows

So, you might be asking, how do I get rid of old windows? You have several options available, but the most straightforward is locate your nearest recycling centre and make a trip down there.

Where Can You Recycle Glass Windows?

The chances are good that you’ve a suitable glass-recycling facility within a few miles of where you’re now sitting. British Glass provide a useful tool which will help you to locate your nearest. Give them a call before you turn up, and check that they’ll take your window, and that they’re open to non-locals. You might find that you have other recyclable materials at home that can be disposed of on the same trip.

Re-using the glass

On the other hand, you might decide that you can re-use the glass elsewhere in your home. You might be able to extract the glass from your window and turn it into a cabinet, a tabletop, a picture frame, or even outdoor flooring. In the case of the latter, you’re going to be shattering the window into fragments, and leaving it to set on top of setting cement. When the whole thing is set, you can grind the thing down into a smooth, safe surface.

Obviously, this sort of thing is inherently dangerous, and requires that you take adequate precautions. Use protective goggles, gloves, and make sure that you sweep up any fragments or dust when you’re done.

Selling the Window

Of course, most of us will hesitate before going to all of this effort – particularly if we’re not all that creative. But you might find that someone else in your vicinity has a use for your old window, even if you don’t. Making a listing on a site like Gumtree or Facebook is free and may yield results. Perhaps someone needs a new window for their shed, or perhaps there’s a local artist who specialises in glass!


If you’re getting rid of your old windows and looking for new ones, check out our JELD-WEN brand range, our timber window range and aluminium window range. Just get in touch if you have any queries.